A crowd had assembled on Wednesday night in front of the Ferguson police department after the announcement that Chief Thomas Jackson would be resigning. According to reports from Reuters, Jackson stepped down on Wednesday afternoon after months of public pressure following the August 9 shooting of Michael Brown.
Just after midnight, the Huffington Postreports, shots were fired into the crowd, striking a 32-year-old Webster Groves Police Department police officer and a 41-year-old St. Louis county police officer.
The shootings come barely a week after the Justice Department released the results of its in-depth investigation into the Ferguson police department. Two senior police commanders and a municipal judge resigned from their positions within days of its release, and a court clerk was fired, the Guardian reports. Chief Thomas Jackson was the sixth official to step down in a week.
Among the report’s findings was a string of widely circulated emails in which black people were portrayed as illiterate, chronically unemployed system-drainers. The investigation also revealed that African Americans in Ferguson were being ticketed for minor offences at a wildly disproportionate rate to that of other races, the Atlanticreports. The discovery led investigators to conclude that the police in Ferguson saw African Americans “less as constituents to be protected than as potential offenders and sources of revenue.”
“Black people in Ferguson were twice as likely to be searched during a stop, twice as likely to receive a citation when stopped, and twice as likely to be arrested during the stop, and yet were 26 percent less likely to be found with contraband.”
Thursday’s shooting heightened tensions in a city in the grips of a veritable race war since the August shooting of Michael Brown and subsequent announcements that his killer, Officer Darren Wilson, would not be indicted.
Eyewitness accounts placing the shooters far beyond the area of the protestors helped quell fears the attack was a retaliation from Ferguson’s black community. A statement from Michael Brown’s parents, the unofficial leaders of the Ferguson protests, condemned any form of violence aimed at police.
“It cannot and will not be tolerated,” they said, according to the Los Angeles Times.
No suspects had been arrested as the police began the second day of their manhunt on Friday. Their efforts will determine whether Thursday’s events mark a new chapter in the Ferguson’s race wars or bring the final chapter of the sordid saga to a bloody close.
[Photo Credit: CBS Local]