U.S. views on Missouri shooting vary starkly by race as tension continues

While the opinions of black and white Americans on the shooting are starkly divergent, the idea that race had a role in the incident is more prevalent among whites

U.S. views on Missouri shooting vary starkly by race as tension continues

World Bulletin/News Desk

U.S. blacks are twice as likely as whites to view the fatal Missouri shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a white police officer through the lens of race, according to a nationwide poll released on Monday.

Four out of five black respondents said the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson earlier this month and the ensuing week of sometimes violent protests highlighted important issues of race in the United States that need to be discussed.

That compares with fewer than two in five whites who viewed the shooting and subsequent protests in that way, according to the survey from the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.

Most of the 21,000 residents in Ferguson are black, and the eight nights of clashes in the St. Louis suburb have pitted mostly black demonstrators against mostly white police.

Some residents have said Brown's death symbolizes how blacks are treated unfairly in a town run by a white minority, and roughly two-thirds of black people polled agreed, saying the police's tactics had gone too far. Only a third of whites said law enforcement had been too heavy-handed.

Police have maintained that their tactics have been an appropriate response to the looting and violence.

The poll also showed that 76 percent of black respondents had little or no confidence in the police investigation into the shooting, while over half of whites said they were fairly or very confident in probes by law enforcement.

While the opinions of black and white Americans on the shooting are starkly divergent, the idea that race had a role in the incident is more prevalent among whites than in the Trayvon Martin case, another high-profile killing of an unarmed black teenager.

Last July, Pew asked whether the fatal shooting of Martin by community watch volunteer George Zimmerman revealed problems with race in the country. Sixty percent of whites said then that race was getting too much attention in that case, compared with 47 percent of whites who were asked about Brown's death. Opinions of black respondents were largely unchanged in regard to both cases.

Pew spoke with 1,000 adults from Thursday to Sunday. The margin of error in the poll ranged from 3.6 to 11.2 percentage points. Roughly seven times as many whites were polled than blacks.

U.S. police says come under gunfire, 31 arrested

Police came under "heavy gunfire" and 31 people were arrested, authorities said on Tuesday, during racially charged protests in Ferguson.

"Not a single bullet was fired by officers despite coming under heavy attack (on Monday night)," State Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson told a news conference.

"Our officers came under heavy gunfire," in one area, he said, and riot police had confiscated two guns from protesters and what looked like a petrol bomb (molotov cocktail).

Demonstrations, mostly peaceful but with spasms of violence by smaller groups, have flared since Michael Brown, 18, was shot dead during an incident with a policeman in a patrol car while walking down a residential street in Ferguson on Aug. 9.

An overnight curfew has been imposed and the National Guard, the U.S. state militia, has been deployed in the St. Louis suburb of 21,000 people to stop looting and burning that have punctuated the protests and stirred questions about U.S. race relations.

Missouri state police with an African-American in charge, Johnson, have taken over security efforts from mostly white local police, widely accused of using excessive force against blacks, and President Barack Obama and civil rights leaders have appealed for calm while a federal investigation proceeds.

Brown was shot by policeman Darren Wilson, 28, who is now on paid leave, in hiding and under criminal investigation.

The clashes between riot police and protesters on Monday night occurred after hours of demonstrations that were mostly peaceful, Reuters witnesses said.

Police had closed a roadway to traffic to provide a path for marches but said a smaller group within the larger crowd hurled bottles, rocks and petrol bombs at officers standing near armored vehicles. Police responded by firing gas-filled canisters and a noise cannon to try to disperse the throng.

Johnson, commanding state police now overseeing efforts to reinstate order, told CNN that two people were shot within the crowd, but not by police, and were taken to hospital.

Some demonstrators, including a church minister using a blow horn, urged crowds to calm down.

Local broadcast media said on Twitter that one person was shot in the hand and taken to an area hospital and that another man rushed to a police line holding his side saying he had been shot. Reuters could not confirm the reports.

"This has to stop. I don't want anybody to get hurt. We have to find a way to stop this," Johnson said.

There have been peaceful protests over Brown's killing elsewhere in the United States including in St. Louis, New York, Seattle and Oakland. Johnson said some of the arrested protesters had come from California and New York.

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency in Ferguson on Saturday and a curfew from midnight to 5 a.m. He also mobilised the National Guard to back up state police.

Obama said he told the governor the use of the National Guard should be limited and called for conciliation in communities hit by the unrest. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder will visit Ferguson on Wednesday, Obama said.

"While I understand the passions and the anger that arise over the death of Michael Brown, giving in to that anger by looting or carrying guns, and even attacking the police, only serves to raise tensions and stir chaos," Obama told a news conference. "It undermines, rather than advancing, justice."

Holder said over 40 FBI agents were canvassing Ferguson neighborhoods in their investigation and an additional medical examination was being performed on Brown. Results of autopsies done by federal and St. Louis County authorities were pending.

Many Ferguson residents say Brown's killing was emblematic of police excesses against blacks, a charge authorities deny.

Brown's friend Dorian Johnson, 22, said Wilson had reached out his car window to grab Brown and the teenager tried to get away. Johnson said Brown held up his hands to surrender but Wilson got out of his car and shot him several times.

The National Bar Association, containing the largest network of black attorneys and judges, filed a lawsuit on Monday against Ferguson and its police department, demanding it protect evidence of the shooting and arrests made during protests.


Güncelleme Tarihi: 19 Ağustos 2014, 12:15

Muhammed Öylek