Two police officers shot in Ferguson, MO

Two St. Louis County police officers were shot during demonstrations in Ferguson last week, ABC News reported.

The shootings were condemned by both the family of Michael Brown Jr. and protest leaders.

Lesley McSpadden and Michael Brown Sr. called the attack “senseless,” blasting “stand-alone agitators” who they say attempted to derail the peaceful protest, NBC News reported.

A spokesperson for the St. Louis County Police Department said no arrests were made although several people were brought in for questioning.

St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar told ABC News that police heard “three or four shots ring out” before the officers were wounded by a shooter about 150 feet away.

Both officers were released from the hospital within days.

Belmar said the search for suspects is now a priority within the St. Louis Police Department.

President Obama responded to the shootings on Jimmy Kimmel Live.

“I think what had been happening in Ferguson was oppressive and objectionable, but there was no excuse for criminal acts, and whoever fired those shots shouldn’t detract from the issue,” Obama said.

“They’re criminals. They need to be arrested.”

Reverend Traci Blackmon, a Ferguson protester, told NBC, “Whoever was the culprit last night did not come from this community…We will not be moved. We will not give up.”

Blackmon also said that even at the height of public outrage, no officers were harmed.

Protesters and religious leaders held a candlelight vigil to pray for the officers and their families.

President Obama tweeted that the “path to justice is one all of us must travel together.” Protests continued after the officers were shot.

St. Louis County Police and Missouri Highway Patrol took command of protest security.

On March 11, a Justice Department report revealed widespread racial prejudice among the Ferguson police department and municipal court.

Former Police Chief Tom Jackson stepped down, making him the latest in a series of Ferguson officials to step down since March 4 when the Department of Justice said that they had found unlawful and unconstitutional practices within the Ferguson justice department.

Protesters had been calling for Jackson’s removal since Mike Brown’s death in August, Reuters reported.

A separate Department of Justice investigation found that Ferguson police often targeted African-American residents for arrests and ticketing.

The report also said the Ferguson Police Department may need to be dismantled completely.

Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III said the city is committed to keeping its police department. “We continue to go through the report and talk about where the breakdown was,” Knowles said.

Two groups protested outside City Hall as the mayor spoke, one side in support of Knowles and the other against him, Reuters reported.

Several dozen people demonstrated outside the Ferguson Police Department Wednesday night.

More than 20 officers in riot gear faced off against protesters, and at least two people were taken into custody.

The Ferguson police’s response to the demonstrations, especially their use of tear gas, was criticized by the U.N., among many other people and organizations.

Former Police Chief Jackson was blasted as being “tone deaf” to the city’s racial problems.

He was further criticized for taking weeks to apologize to Mike Brown’s family after his death and for delaying the release of Darren Wilson’s name.

-Dionna Cheatham ’15, Junior Politics/Opinions Editor

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