tv Inside Story Al Jazeera March 12, 2015 7:30am-8:01am EDT
agree of giant jelly fish, and a star gazing shrimp in south africa. it's eyes are fixed in an upward direction. if you'd like to look at our website, the address is aljazeera.com. >> good morning welcome to aljazeera america. we continue to breaking news coming out of missouri, two police officers are shot during a protest outside the police department. according to the st. louis county police chief the two officers have serious injuries but have been conscious. one st. louis officer has been shot in the shoulder, another in the face. all of this happening after midnight. right now no word on who fired those shots the shootings
happening during protests hours after ferguson police chief thomas jackson announced that he would resign, that resignation set to take effect in one week. all of this coming on the heels of that skatings justice department report on ferguson police department and court system alleging widespread bias. john henry smith has been tracking the story throughout the evening. what's the latest? >> police officers from neighboring departments had gathered outside the ferguson police departments in case protests got out of control. just after midnight, things did get out of control in a most frightening way. >> journalists and a protesting crowd were beginning to disperse when suddenly at midnight, shots rang out. witnesses counted three to four shots fired. >> as we were about to pack our cameras up, we hear what we thought were fireworks you were the street. turns out happened three more times, it was gunfire.
we saw the muzzle fire from a gun on top of the street, so we just all ducked down and once we ducked down, we saw the cop was shot next to us. >> the shots wounded two officers. neither was a ferguson officer. a 41-year-old officer from st. louis county was shot in the shoulder a 32-year-old officer was shot in the face. st. louis county police chief said the shots came from behind the protestors across the street. >> i would have to make an assumption right now that based on the fact that these officers were standing together, and there were several officers standing right there together when this happened, that, you know, these were shots that were parallel to the ground, not up in the air. they weren't skip shots and i would have to make an assumption that these shots were directed exactly at my police officers. >> constant protest in ferguson since last summer's shooting of unarmed black teen michael brown by white exferguson officer
darren wilson had the chief concerned that an outbreak of violence was destined to happen. >> it's very difficult to sustain this without injury to the public, our community and without injuries to our police officers, and i think we need to reevaluate that. >> as to those who found themselves caught amid the gunfire, it's something they'll never forget. >> bullets were going right past my head. it was kind of traumatic. i'm still kind of in shock because of it. >> there are reports that are at least one officer is hospitalized in serious condition this morning. police have not yet made any arrests. chief bellmar promised he would make himself available later this morning for another press briefing. >> you've been tracking the story throughout the evening. what is the situation on the streets of ferguson right now? calm or chaos? >> things were very calm leading up to the events of last night. there had been about 200 or so protestors according to witnesses during the day which
prompted the police response, but then by the time, right before the shooting happened, that crowd dwindled to about 50 or so and they dispersed very quickly once the shooting started. >> john henry smith for us, tracking the story throughout the evening. john, thank you very much. >> the announcement that ferguson's police chief is resigning comes one week after the justice department accused his department of discriminating against african-americans. thomas jackson is the sixth ferguson employee to lose his job. he may not be the last. >> police chief thomas jackson is the sixth ferguson city employee to step down after a devastating report from the department of justice about discriminatory law enforcement practices. ferguson mayor james knolls announced the departure. >> the city of forego son police chief thomas jackson have agreed to a mutual separation which involves the police chief's resignation from the city of ferguson. >> in his resignation email
jackson made no mention of the d.o.j. report or police shooting death of unarmed teenager michael brown by a white police officer. jackson said it has been an honor and privilege to serve this great city and to serve with all of you. last week, u.s. attorney general eric holder announced police officer darren wilson would not face federal charges in brown's death. >> facts do not support the filing of criminal charges against officer darren wilson in this case. michael browns death though a tragedy, did not involve prosecutable conduct on the part of officer wilson. >> hands up, don't shoot. >> a separate justice department report into police practices found discrimination by police and elected officials against african-americans. police stops arrests use of force, and excessive fines for minor infractions such as traffic violations and failing to cult weeds on residential property. >> both policing and municipal
court practices were found to be disproportionately harmful to african-american residents. for all these conditions, and constitutional violations created an intensely charged atmosphere where people feel under assault. >> the police chief is the latest ferguson official to go. the court clerk was fired for sending racist emails. two police officials resigned for the same reason. the municipal court judge resigned after the state supreme court took the extraordinary action to assigning his cases to a state judge. the d.o.j. report accused him of charging unconstitutional fees. the city manager also resigned, accused of endorsing the strategy by police and the municipal court to use court fines as a way of making revenue, most of those fines against african-american defendants. last week, attorney general holder called for a complete overhaul of ferguson's
practices. >> we are prepared to use all the power that we have to ensure that the situation changes there, and that means everything from working with them to coming up with an entirely new structure. >> does that include dismantling the police force? >> if that's necessary, we're propped to do that. >> another finding in the report is that police used tasers and dogs excessively against african-american suspects. while adjustment attorney holder said there were violations of civil rights laws, it's unclear whether federal charges will be brought against those responsible. >> thomas jackson was a member of the st. louis police department for 30 years. he took over in ferguson in 2010. he was commander of the county drug task force and served at swat team supervisor. he was an undercover detector and hostage negotiator and has a degree in criminal justice
markment. st. louis county prosecutor bob mcculloch talked about that case. >> i avoided talking to a lot of the media not because i'm concerned about the media but a big part was waiting for the justice department to get around to making their determination. the d.o.j. report sides with you that he never said has phrase hands up, don't shoot. do you feel vindicated? >> well, i never felt incriminated, so there was no reason to feel vindicated. we knew the department of justice had exactly what we had. other a witness who popped up apparently in mid february, there's nothing in their report that wasn't in their hands on november 24, so when they came out with the finding that they made it, it certainly didn't come as a surprise. >> it would have been helpful to have it a lot earlier than 101 days after the grand jury heard
the identical evidence. it may not have eliminated the problems we had that night. it may not have held them down some but it certainly wouldn't have hurt to have it done. i can't come up with any plausible reason why it would take 101 days to do it. >> do you think they dropped the ball by not doing it sooner? >> i think it made more sense i guess to them to combine the two. >> when we talked with residents, many who had not read the d.o.j. report in its entirety said even without it being released, they always felt like there was just something in the air that made them believe one day something like this would happen, a michael brown would be shot. >> no, i didn't necessarily feel that, not at all. we're always concerned that someday there's going to be a confrontation that's going to have a tragic result and unfortunately that does happen. the initial miscopceptions that
mr. brown was down on on his knees with his hands up in the air surrounding when he was executed by the police officer was the initial story that went out and there's absolutely nothing from credible witnesses or from any of the physical evidence that would support that. >> during the height of the protest, so many people were chanting that phrase, hands up don't shoot. if it didn't come from michael brown, where did it come from? >> from dorian johnson. i think it got combined. i think this case illustrated certainly the power of social media. >> during the height of that, they were taking pages from your personal biography challenging things about your own father's death. >> sure. >> how do you respond to that? how did you make sense of that? >> i made no sense of it and i can't make sense of it. there was this quantum leap that was being made from the fact that my father was a police officer who was killed in the line of duty 50 years ago. >> by a black man.
>> by a black man and the quantum leap made to mcculloch can't be fair with nothing in between backing that up and everything in between refuting that. >> we are following that breaking news coming out of ferguson missouri overnight, two police officers shot in a protest outside the police department. we will be right back.
today the city of ferguson >> we are following breaking news out of ferguson, missouri, two police officers in the hospital after being shot during a protest overnight outside a police station there the st. louis police chief saying the officer has serious injuries, but both she conscious. one is a st. louis county officer, a 14 year law enforcement veteran shot in the showed the other is 32 years old and works for nearby webster groves a seven year veteran and was shot in the face. all this happening after midnight. police don't know who fired the shots. earlier, we heard from the st. louis county police chief about what happened. >> protestors arrived in front of the ferguson police department on south florissant road. i was actually able to monitor that and talk to my staff about what was going on, as far as the night goes, probably 60, 70
people that were up there it wasn't all that remarkable compared to some of the things that we have experienced over the last few months, but there were quite a few people in the roadway, sidewalk, et cetera. there was a contingent of police officers that were up there from different agencies assisting ferguson and the night was uneventful up until midnight. the crowd was breaking up, several officers had left the area and to the immediate north-northwest of the ferguson police department, several shots were fired at least three and two officers were struck. st. louis county officer was struck in the shoulder and a webster groves police officer was struck in the face. about the those officers are here now being treated. i don't have an official status on what their condition is right now. they are conscious however those are very serious gunshot
injuries to be able to sustain in your upper torso and in your face. they are being treated right now. families are with them. the officers will not be identified now earn the fact that the st. louis county officer is 41 years old a 14 year veteran of law enforcement and then we have the webster groves officer who is 32 years old and he's been on the department for approximately five years. i would like to just underscore if i could for a minute, you know, we have had an occasion to be involved in many of the events in ferguson since the -- since michael brown was killed and i think we've been very fortunate at we've moved forward not to have similar incidents like this to happen to us. i have said all along that we cannot sustain this forever without problems. that's not an indictment on everything that's out there certainly expressing their first
amendment rights, but we have seen in law enforcement that this is a very, very, very dangerous environment for the officers to work in regarding the amount of gunfire that we have experienced up there. now this evening the only shots that we were aware of were the shots that were taken from across the streets. in other words these police officers were standing there and they were shot, just because they were police officers. >> we do expect to hear again from the st. louis county police sometime later this morning. we will bring that you news event as it happens. let's turn now to our al jazeera legal contributor jami floyd joining us by phone. you heard the chief saying that he believes his officers were targeted. is it too soon for the chief to say that he believes that they were shot at based on the sketchy information that we have so far and is that part of this toxic atmosphere that we are seeing in ferguson? >> well, dell, there certainly is a toxic atmosphere in ferguson, but i have to
respectfully disagree with the st. louis police chief that it is due to the sunlight that has been shined on ferguson by the media. the problem in ferguson is that it is representative of the fundamental problem of race relations in the larger united states. this is the elevation of the speed trap that has evolved into a philosophy of government, where citizens are treated as marks by law enforcement and the judiciary and burden is falling heaviest on those who have the resource to say game the system, and to blame it on those of us who are simply giving voice to a larger systemic racism that is merely represented by ferguson, ferguson is not alone in this, but when darren wilson shot mike brown and yes he has been
cleared by the department of justice of violating mr. brown's civil righties, but when that moment happened, the attention of the nation was drawn to what is a fundamental conversation that has to happen. we always talk about the conversation that we need to have about race, well, we're having it now, and the conversation that just begun with the department of justice report on ferguson. that wasn't an end point that was the beginning. >> how do you keep the peace in a place like ferguson when the people who are supposed to keep that peace now find themselves under the microscope, as well. >> that's precisely why we see the resignation of the city manager. we see the resignation of thomas jackson and the police chief in ferguson. you point out that this is a man with 30 years in history in law enforcement, in st. louis and neighboring counties with that we have the missouri supreme court assigning a state judge to
oversee going forward as i say this is the start of a conversation, to oversee the changes that have to happen, according to the federal department of justice so it is going to be a very delicate and difficult situation in ferguson and del, it is as i've just said not just ferguson. this is a situation that is repeated and replicated in small towns and big cities across the united states, so this moment that we're seeing in ferguson, we have to recognize has to be discussed in communities across the country or we're going to see this kind of unrest repeated again and again. >> we just cell braided and looked back at some of 50 years later. >> yes yes. >> there it took the national guard in 1965. do you believe that based on what the justice department has said and what we are seeing happening overnight that the guard, the national guard may be needed in ferguson to keep the peace, as well. >> i'm glad you brought up that
coincidence. there was a juxtaposition of the dialings report right up against president obama's speech that marked that 50th anniversary of bloody sunday and that was really just sequins dental, but the founders of the civil rights movement would have found it paragraph den she will. we have to see what 50 years later would be a rather tragic but repeat performance by, you know, federal presence in a place like ferguson, but it may be necessary. at the same time del i think we should see ferguson as reality, but not necessarily death day. i think we can turn this into a moment of providence and promise rather than a moment of despair and so let's hope that we can use the department of justice report as a guide post for
change and justice. >> what does it say that we are still having this problem in ferguson missouri so many months after the shooting of michael brown? >> so many months after. i heard that conversation shift a little bit ago with mcculloch that you had on the air. i think the justice department was very careful about the timing. they wanted the announcement about their findings with regard to officer wilson, former officer wilson be contemporaneous on the findings in ferguson. i want to address del and answer your question about the larger timing, why are we having this 50 years after selma right? i want people to continue to have the conversation about race race relations and justice 50 years after dr. king's dream. fifty years isn't that much time and we have achieved so much,
even in the few weeks since michael brown because we are having the conversation, since last august when mr. brown was shot and 50 years since selma that would be my lifetime, and certainly we've come so far as a country and we're a very young country, so people should not despair. i really think that if we work within the bounds of the law, we can achieve so much and i would ask people not to be violent but to be vigilant. >> it con record. >> up memories of los angeles after rodney king, philadelphia after the move situation with the police there. the prince gorge counties in d.c. in the 1970's. is it that the conversation isn't happening or that the united states just doesn't get snit. >> i think the conversation stops and starts. we have joked off camera about getting older there are a lot of things we don't like about that but one thing that is good about getting older is you have
a long view of picturing and you start to see these things in context. that can bring you pain, because you see these things happen over and over again being a new yorker, you mentioned things that have happened around the country. i've seen the howard beach incident, i could name 10 of these things off the top of my head. >> we're going to have to leave it there. we will be right back. you. >> the resignation makes it seem like there is something wrong going on here. >> again, we're going through that report. those resignations are mutual decisions both by the chief and the city manager, and i think that the comments and resignation do say that they admit no wrongdoing. >> thank you, ladies and gentlemen. >> there you have it, the mayor of ferguson , missouri
police chief. as you are aware one week ago >> welcome back to aljazeera america. i'm del walters in new york. recapping that breaking news we've been following overnight from ferguson, missouri, two police officers were shot there just after midnight as a mostly peaceful protest was breaking up outside a police station, one man was shot in the face, the other in the shoulder. the st. louis county police said they have been conscious. they are searching for who might be responsible. we expect an update at 10:00 a.m. eastern time. we will bring that to you live when it happens. fault lines is next. you can track us 24 hours a day by going to aljazeera.com. again, news out of ferguson, missouri, two police officers shot, both said to be conscious. more news ahead.
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