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Tear Gas, Gunfire Fly in Ferguson Again…

Tear gas, gunfire fly in Ferguson again
http://www.cnn.com//2014/08/19/us/missouri-teen-shooting/index.html

• NEW:  “Justice will bring peace, I believe,” Michael Brown’s mother tells NBC’s “Today”

• Some protesters throw rocks, bottles and Molotov cocktails at police

Editor’s Note:  Have you documented the protests in Ferguson? Share your photos, videos and opinions with CNN iReport. For local coverage of the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown and its aftermath, go to CNN affiliates KMOV, KSDK, KTVI and KPLR.

More violence. More tear gas. No answers.

Stun grenades and tear gas canisters arced through the night sky and into crowds of protesters overnight in Ferguson, Missouri, after police said they had been targeted with rocks, Molotov cocktails and gunfire amid continuing demonstrations over the death of Michael Brown.

Two people were shot — not by police, authorities said. Four officers were injured. Police arrested at least 31 people.

Police and protesters blamed outside agitators for the gunplay and violence.

“We don’t need these antagonizers out here,” said protester Jerrell Bourrage, who earlier grabbed one of the bottle-hurling demonstrators and told him to stop. “We need people who can stand out here to the side and still let your word be known.”

The protests are the latest spasm of violence over the shooting of Brown, an unarmed African-American teenager, by white police Officer Darren Wilson on August 9.

As police and protesters search for a way to stop the chaos, Brown’s parents appeared on NBC’s “Today” to appeal for justice and say there’s just one way out of all this.

“Justice,” Brown’s mother, Lesley McSpadden, told the NBC show. “Justice will bring peace, I believe.”

Situation deteriorates

Monday evening began peacefully enough.

For almost two hours, police in riot gear formed a barricade and stood watch as hundreds of protesters marched in a single-file line that stretched so long that different parts chanted different slogans.

“Hands up, don’t shoot,” some repeated. “No justice, no peace,” others said. Still others were singing church hymns.

But the scene quickly deteriorated after a handful of protesters threw rocks, bottles and Molotov cocktails at police. Officers responded by firing stun grenades and tear gas canisters.

Amid the frenzy, gunshots could be heard. Police found two people shot within the protest site, said Missouri State Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson, who is in charge of protest security.

One group of protesters made a barricade with portable toilets and orange cones. Some ripped out street signs, including a symbolic “Do Not Enter” sign.

Armored vehicles rolled down the streets with officers perched atop, their hands steadied on guns. Other officers darted into the protest crowd to make an occasional arrest before retreating.

Johnson said that a building and an unoccupied house were set on fire, and that his officers came under “heavy gunfire.”

“We have been criticized for using SWAT trucks during protests. We did not deploy them into crowds until things deteriorated,” he said. “Once again, not a single bullet was fired by officers despite coming under heavy attack.”

CNN accounts of the protest varied.

On Monday night, CNN’s Jake Tapper echoed the frustrations of many in the crowd.

“Absolutely there have been looters, absolutely over the last nine days there has been violence, but there is nothing going on in this street right now that merits this scene out of Bagram. Nothing.

“So if people wonder why the people of Ferguson, Missouri, are so upset, this is part of the reason. What is this? This doesn’t make any sense.”

However, on Tuesday morning, CNN’s Steve Kastenbaum said the police response was among the more restrained in several nights of demonstrations. Police, he said, appeared to be very targeted in responding to “bad actors.”

“There are people in this crowd who are here to do more than protest, who come here armed” Kastenbaum said.

To be sure, Johnson displayed weapons seized early Monday.

“This has to stop,” he said. “I don’t want anybody to get hurt.”

Outside provocateurs

Protest leaders tried to calm the situation.

CNN correspondent Ed Lavandera told of watching community religious leaders “get up in the face” of troublemakers in a failed effort to dissuade them from violence.

“Get out of the street! Don’t fight!” some protesters bellowed on bullhorns.

Others, like Bourrage, told hold of the agitators and tried to get them to stop.

“I came to keep my brothers safe,” Bourrage said. “We have fathers, brothers, mothers and aunties out here.”

Malik Shabazz, national president of Black Lawyers for Justice, blamed unspecified outside provocateurs for the trouble.

“We can’t allow this movement to be destroyed,” he said.

‘Make your voices heard’ — during the day

Johnson, during an early morning news conference, urged demonstrators to protest during the daylight hours Tuesday and not after dark.

“Make your voices heard where you can be seen and you’re not the cover for violent agitators,” he said.

“There is a dangerous dynamic in the night. It allows a small number of agitators to hide in the crowd and then attempt to create chaos.”

Earlier, in an interview with CNN, Johnson added, “This has to stop.”

“It has to stop,” he said about the violence.” I don’t want anybody to get hurt. We have to find a way to stop it.”

Grand jury proceedings likely

Monday’s chaos followed a day rich in developments, including details of a private autopsy and details of what Officer Wilson reportedly says happened.

The autopsy showed that Brown had been shot at least six times, including twice in the head. The findings are more than enough to justify Wilson’s arrest, Brown family attorney Daryl Parks said Monday.

On “Today,” Brown’s father, Michael Brown Sr., said the autopsy didn’t answer the family’s one key question: Why?

“What was the cause of that excessive force?” he said. “Nobody deserved that.”

Also on Monday, an account emerged of a telephone call to “The Dana Show” on the Radio America network from a woman claiming to know Wilson’s version of events. According to the account — which a source with detailed knowledge of the investigation said tracks with Wilson’s version of events — Brown rushed Wilson in the moments before the shooting.

Witnesses who have come forward publicly say Brown was standing with his hands in the air when he was shot.

A grand jury could begin to hear testimony from witnesses and decide on whether to return an indictment in the case as early as Wednesday.

In addition to that proceeding, the Justice Department has opened a civil rights investigation into Brown’s death.

Meanwhile, fallout continues to affect the community.

The Ferguson-Florissant School District has canceled school for the week, and two nearby districts — Jennings and Riverview Gardens — opted to remain closed again Tuesday as well, according to CNN affiliate KMOV.Some businesses have also been looted or burned, prompting some store owners to arm themselves and stand guard over their shops, according to local media reports…

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A Yazidi Family’s Flight to Escape ISIS…

A Yazidi family’s flight to escape ISIS
http://www.cnn.com//2014/08/13/world/meast/iraq-after-isis-escape/index.html

A Yazidi Family’s Flight to Escape ISIS…

• NEW: Far fewer Yazidis are trapped than previously feared, officials say

• Sisters Aziza and Dunya Hamid escape mountain in a helicopter rescue

Zakho, Iraq (CNN) — Theirs were the faces that stood out in the chaotic helicopter evacuation off the Sinjar Mountains.

Tears streamed down the cheeks of 15-year-old Aziza Hamid and her 17-year-old sister, Dunya, who were among a lucky few to fight their way onto an Iraqi helicopter, a scene captured this week by a CNN crew on the flight taking food and water to thousands trapped by extremist fighters.

Two days later, CNN’s Ivan Watson tracked the girls and some of their family members to the third floor of a derelict building in Zakho, Iraq, a makeshift shelter where roughly 1,000 Yazidis with nowhere to go have taken refuge.

Inside, the girls, their brothers and their 16-month-old cousin are confined with their meager belongings to a few feet of bare concrete.

“You no have food. You no have drink. You no have sleep. It is very, very poor,” the girls’ brother, Kareem, told Watson on Wednesday. “It’s no good.”

Their plight, like so many, began more than a week ago when they fled into the surrounding mountains when ISIS fighters stormed the town of Sinjar.

Thousands are believed to be on the mountain, trapped without food, water or medical care in the summer heat.

U.S. President Barack Obama ordered targeted airstrikes last week, partly to protect the Yazidis and others fleeing ISIS. He also ordered humanitarian airdrops.

A mass evacuation of Yazidis is unlikely following an assessment by the U.S. State Department and military that found far fewer people were trapped than previously feared.

Once believed to be in the tens of thousands, the number of Yazidis in the mountains is “now in the low thousands,” Brett McGurk, a deputy assistant secretary of state, told CNN on Wednesday.

Part of the reason for the drop in the number trapped is the airstrikes and humanitarian airdrops, as well as Iraqi helicopter evacuations, McGurk said.

For now, those escaping continue to do so either by helicopter or a treacherous journey on foot.

ISIS fighters have vowed to kill the Yazidis, calling them “devil worshipers.”

Yazidis, one of the world’s smallest and oldest religious minorities, are members of a pre-Islamic sect with its roots in Zoroastrianism. It has ties to Hinduism, Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

When ISIS advanced on Sinjar, an ancestral home for many Yazidis, the Hamid family was forced to flee.

“I was happy we survived, but I was sad and worried about my father,” Dunya told Watson.

The girls’ father, like so many, refused to leave their hometown of Sinjar ahead of the ISIS advance.

“We all tried hard to convince my dad but he refused to leave the house,” the girls’ other brother, Thabed Hamid, said.

“He said it would be a humiliation. I decided I couldn’t let them capture girls and the women. So we left.”

The family didn’t make it far in their car before they ran into ISIS fighters, who were shooting at fleeing Yazidis on a bridge.

“I jumped out of the car and off the bridge,” Aziza says, “because I was scared of ISIS.”

From there, they made their way up the mountain in the sweltering Iraqi summer heat.

“If we were able to find a tree where we could rest in the shade, we were lucky,” Dunya said.

“For the first four days we had no food, only water. Any bread we found we fed to the little kids to keep them alive.”

It would be days before they learned their father’s fate.

On Tuesday, they learned in a cellular telephone call their father was still alive. He escaped Sinjar and is on the mountain, the girls told Watson…

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Witnesses: Michael Brown’s Last Minutes…

Witnesses: Michael Brown’s last minutes
http://www.cnn.com//2014/08/14/us/missouri-teen-shooting/index.html

Witnesses: Michael Brown’s last minutes

• NEW: Reporters detained by police tell “New Day” there was no justification for detention

• NEW: Missouri governor pleads for calm, respect for rights; he’ll visit Ferguson today

Editor’s Note:  Have you documented the protests in Ferguson? Share your photos, videos and opinions with CNN iReport.

Ferguson, Missouri (CNN) — While Michael Brown appeared to tussle with an officer before he was shot dead, he didn’t enter the police cruiser as authorities claim he did, two witnesses told CNN.

The women’s accounts corroborate that of a previous witness, all three of whom said the officer fatally shot the unarmed teen. 

Police have said the black 18-year-old died in a dangerous struggle after trying to grab the officer’s weapon. Not so, say the witnesses.

“It looked as if Michael was pushing off and the cop was trying to pull him in,”  Tiffany Mitchell told CNN on Wednesday night.

Mitchell said she drove to Ferguson on Saturday to pick up an employee for work just in time to see Brown tussling at the window of a police vehicle.

She and the employee, Piaget Crenshaw, told CNN’s Don Lemon late Wednesday about Brown’s last moments.

Crenshaw, still in  her building, watched the same events from her window. She later shot cell phone video of the aftermath, which CNN obtained from affiliate KMOV.

It looked like the two of them were arm wrestling, she said.

Neither woman, who gave their statements to St. Louis County police, say they saw Brown enter the vehicle.

Instead, a shot went off, then the teen broke free, and the officer got out of the vehicle in pursuit, the women said.

“I saw the police chase him … down the street and shoot him down,” Crenshaw said. Brown ran about 20 feet.

“Michael jerks his body, as if he’s been hit,” Mitchell said.

Then he faced the officer and put his hands in the air, but the officer kept firing, both women said. He sank to the pavement.

After that, Crenshaw hit record on her cell phone. News of the killing spread fast through the neighborhood, and Brown’s uncle walked up to the body to see if it was really his nephew, Crenshaw said.

The video shows police directing him back behind police tape.

State of unrest

Brown’s shooting death, and police alleged stonewalling of details, have lit a fire in Ferguson. Residents say the officer’s alleged actions were a brazen act of aggression, especially when Brown, who was about to start technical college, was unarmed and not threatening.

The city has seen protests every night since the Saturday shooting.

Wednesday was no different.

As night approached, police assembled in tactical gear near the protesters. Earlier in the day, police had issued a statement asking them to disperse before dusk.

At one point, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported, police had placed what it described  as “high-caliber automatic weapons” on tripods atop armored vehicles and pointed them at protesters.

News photographers took snaps of young men lighting Molotov cocktails. And a CNN crew found spent crowd-control stun grenades lying in the street.

Police fired tear gas canisters at a crowd near a gas station that has turned into a gathering point for rowdy protests after dark.

Officers raised their guns at people heading for the protest, yelling for them to turn back.

As protesters scattered from the thick clouds of tear gas, officers in riot gear marched slowly in their direction to clear the area, ordering protesters and reporters filming to shut off their cameras, according to media reports.

A tear gas canister landed directly in front of the live television reporting position of Al Jazeera America; the crew ran, leaving its equipment behind. Then an officer later approached the camera and pointed it at the ground, CNN affiliate KSDK reported.

Journalists detained

Earlier in the day, police detained and released two journalists — Wesley Lowery of The Washington Post and Ryan Reilly of The Huffington Post — who had been covering the shooting and the unrest. Neither was charged.

They said they were taken into custody at a McDonald’s restaurant, where they were working, for failing to meet a police officer’s deadline to pack up their gear and move.

“All of this went down, as you can see in the video, in less than two minutes,” Lowery told CNN’s “New Day.”

“The idea that we posed any sort of threat because we weren’t quickly enough packing up our bags is just ludicrous,” Reilly told “New Day.”

Ferguson police Chief Thomas Jackson said he did not know the detaining officers, adding: “We had a lot of different agencies out there.” He said he had spoken to both of them.

Lowery said the arrest impeded his ability to perform his work.

“My job down here it to be a reporter. I wish the police would have done their job and allowed us to do ours,” he said.

Police also detained St. Louis Alderman Antonio French, who has posted a continuous stream of protest video to social media. He was released Thursday morning, he said.

In all, police arrested 18 people — including the two reporters — Wednesday night, Jackson said, bringing the total since the weekend to 65. Two police officers were injured Wednesday night, he said.

‘Worsening situation’

After the night’s clashes, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon announced he would cancel previous plans and visit Ferguson on Thursday for the second time since the shooting.

“The worsening situation in Ferguson is deeply troubling and does not represent who we are as Missourians or as Americans,” Nixon said in a statement. “While we all respect the solemn responsibility of our law enforcement officers to protect the public, we must also safeguard the rights of Missourians to peaceably assemble and the rights of the press to report on matters of public concern.”

Officer not named

On Wednesday, Jackson told CNN that the officer who shot Brown had been hit and suffered swelling on the side of his face. He was taken to a hospital and released the same day, Jackson said.

Five days have passed since Brown’s killing, and the public still does not know the name of the person who pulled the trigger.

There have been cries of a cover-up, but authorities said police have received death threats against the officer and his family. And they want to prevent further violence.

Hackers have gone after the personal information of government and police officials, authorities said.

Civil rights

Federal civil rights investigators and the FBI are carrying out their own inquiries into the controversial case. In the town of 21,000, there’s a history of distrust between the predominantly black community and the largely white police force.

“Race relations is a top priority right now and, as I said, I’m working with the Department of Justice to improve that,”  Jackson told reporters Wednesday.

Only three of the city’s 53 officers are African-American, and Jackson said he is working to change that. About two-thirds of the residents of Ferguson are African-American, and most of the rest are Caucasian. Dorian Johnson, who said he saw the shooting, told CNN on Tuesday that the officer who opened fire is white.

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