Protests Again Turn Violent in St. Louis Suburb

By Dow Jones Business News, 
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Associated Press

FERGUSON, Missouri--Protests in the St. Louis suburb rocked by unrest since a white police officer shot an unarmed black teenager to death again turned violent Wednesday night, with people lobbing Molotov cocktails and other objects at police who responded with smoke bombs and tear gas to disperse the crowd.

Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson, who has been the public face of the city torn by Saturday's death of 18-year- old Michael Brown, told reporters earlier in the day that the St. Louis County investigation of the shooting could take weeks to complete. Meanwhile, he said, his department welcomes Justice Department training on racial relations in the suburb, where two-thirds of the 21,000 residents are black while all but three of the police force's 53 officers are white.

"Unfortunately, an undertow (of racial unrest) has bubbled to the surface," said Mr. Jackson. "Race relations is the top priority right now."

While Mr. Jackson said he wanted to mend fences with the community, protesters were on the streets of Ferguson again Wednesday, facing heavily armed police who at time trained weapons on them from an armored truck. The situation became more tense after nightfall, with police ordering people to go home and then using smoke bombs and, later, tear gas after they said some people threw Molotov cocktails at them.

Two reporters, Wesley Lowery of The Washington Post and Ryan Reilly of the Huffington Post, said they were detained by police while working at a McDonald's in the area.

Mr. Jackson didn't immediately return a cellphone message Wednesday night seeking comment.

Some protesters Wednesday raised their arms above their heads as they faced the police. Others held signs asking for answers about Mr. Brown's death. The most popular chant has been, "Hands up! Don't shoot!"

Mr. Brown's body remained on the street for hours--a span Mr. Jackson deemed "uncomfortable" but justified, given that "you only get one chance at that crime scene" to process it correctly. Mr. Jackson said authorities also were concerned about gunfire they could hear in a nearby building.

In the shooting's aftermath, the hacking collective Anonymous has taken credit for burrowing into the city website and shutting it down for much of Monday. The group also released what it said were audio excerpts from St. Louis County dispatch on the day Mr. Brown was killed. Police declined to comment on the recordings Wednesday.

Copyright 2014 the Associated Press.

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