Michael Brown shooting: Ferguson protests ease early Wednesday
'We plan to learn from this tragedy,' Ferguson officials say about future plans and reconciliation
Police in Ferguson, Missouri made arrests early Wednesday during a standoff with demonstrators in the 11th night of protests following the fatal shooting of unarmed, 18-year-old Michael Brown by a police officer.
Missouri's governor said he would not seek the removal of the county prosecutor overseeing the investigation into the fatal police shooting of the teenager by a white police officer.
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A grand jury was expected to begin a criminal inquiry into shooting on Wednesday.
St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch's deep family connections to police have been cited by some black leaders who question his ability to be impartial. McCullouch's father, mother, brother, uncle and cousin all worked for the St. Louis Police Department, and his father was killed while responding to a call involving a black suspect.
Gov. Jay Nixon said Tuesday he would not ask McCulloch to leave the case, citing the "well-established process" by which prosecutors can recuse themselves from pending investigations to make way for a special prosecutor.
Departing from that process, Nixon said in a statement, "could unnecessarily inject legal uncertainty into this matter and potentially jeopardize the prosecution."
McCulloch, a Democrat elected in 1991, has earned a reputation for being tough on crime.
Brown's Aug. 9 slaying by a white officer has inflamed racial tensions in Ferguson, a predominantly black St. Louis suburb where the police force is mostly white.
After sundown Tuesday, the streets of Ferguson filled once more with protesters who marched along the street in a large square-shaped pattern. But early Wednesday morning the protests were largely subdued and there were no immediate reports of clashes with police, who stood by with batons and gas masks.
Residents again told to stay home
Earlier in the day, Ferguson city leaders urged people to stay home after dark Tuesday to "allow peace to settle in" and pledged to try to improve the police force in the St. Louis suburb.
In a public statement, the city said the mayor, the City Council and employees have been exploring ways to increase the number of African-American applicants to the law enforcement academy, develop incentive programs to encourage city residency for police officers and raise money for cameras that would be attached to patrol car dashboards and officers' vests.
"We plan to learn from this tragedy, as we further provide for the safety of our residents and businesses and progress our community through reconciliation and healing," the statement said.
Benjamin Crump, an attorney for Brown's family, said the 18-year-old's funeral and memorial service would be Monday. The time and location had not been finalized.
Earlier on Tuesday, a large crowd gathered in nearby St. Louis after officers responding to a report of a store robbery shot and killed a knife-wielding man. Police Chief Sam Dotson said the suspect acted erratically and told responding officers to "kill me now."
Some members of the crowd shouted, "Hands up, don't shoot," a phrase that has been a refrain of protests since Brown's death on Aug. 9. Like Brown, the 23-year-old suspect killed Tuesday was black.
A grand jury could begin hearing evidence Wednesday to determine whether the officer, Darren Wilson, should be charged in Brown's death, said Ed Magee, spokesman for St. Louis County's prosecuting attorney.
Wilson got special recognition during a Ferguson City Council meeting in February for what Police Chief Thomas Jackson said then was his role in responding to a report of a suspicious vehicle, then struggling with the driver and detaining him until help arrived. Jackson said the suspect was preparing a large quantity of marijuana for sale.
U.S. attorney general brings own perspective
Attorney General Eric Holder was scheduled to travel to Ferguson on Wednesday to meet with FBI and other officials carrying out an independent federal investigation into Brown's death.
The Justice Department has mounted an unusually swift and aggressive response to Brown's death, from the independent autopsy to dozens of FBI agents combing Ferguson for witnesses to the shooting.
Eric Holder talks about the nation's civil rights struggles in a way no previous U.S. attorney general could — by telling his own family story.
Holder tells how his father, an immigrant from Barbados proudly wearing his World War II uniform, was ejected from a whites-only train car. How his future sister-in-law, escorted by U.S. marshals, integrated the University of Alabama in spite of a governor who stood in the schoolhouse door to block her. How as a college student, he was twice pulled over, his car searched, even though he wasn't speeding.
And Holder recalls that the slaying of black teen Trayvon Martin in 2012 prompted him to sit down with his own 15-year-old son for a talk about the way a young black male must act and speak if confronted by police -- the same talk his father had given him decades earlier.
"I had to do this to protect my boy," the nation's first black attorney general said at an NAACP convention last year.
President Barack Obama is sending Holder to Ferguson to bring the full weight of the federal government into the investigation of the death of another young black man, Michael Brown, who was unarmed when a white police officer shot him multiple times Aug. 9. Daily and nightly protests, sometimes marred by rioting and looting and met with tear gas and rubber-coated bullets from police, have rocked the suburban St. Louis community since.
In an open letter published late Tuesday on the St. Louis Post-Dispatch website, Holder promised a thorough investigation into the Brown shooting while calling for "an end to the acts of violence in the streets of Ferguson."
"The Justice Department will defend the right of protesters to peacefully demonstrate and for the media to cover a story that must be told," Holder wrote. "But violence cannot be condoned. I urge the citizens of Ferguson who have been peacefully exercising their First Amendment rights to join with law enforcement in condemning the actions of looters, vandals and others seeking to inflame tensions and sow discord."
Holder has led an unusually fast and aggressive Justice Department response to the local case, sending teams of prosecutors and dozens of FBI agents to investigate and arranging a federal autopsy on top of one by local authorities.
Still, protesters in the streets say they aren't convinced justice will be done. Holder's record on civil rights and personal commitment may help reassure the community when he visits.
With files from Reuters