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‘No longer peaceful assembly’: Ferguson SWAT fire tear gas, rubber bullets

Published time: August 14, 2014 01:00
Edited time: August 14, 2014 04:48
Riot police clear a street with smoke bombs while clashing with demonstrators in Ferguson, Missouri August 13, 2014. (Reuters)

Riot police clear a street with smoke bombs while clashing with demonstrators in Ferguson, Missouri August 13, 2014. (Reuters)

An overwhelming group of SWAT forces in riot gear has descended on protesters who gathered once again in Ferguson, Missouri, on Wednesday. After nightfall, police deployed tear gas against the crowd, warning the protest was “no longer peaceful.”

“This is no longer a peaceful assembly. Go home or be subject to arrest,” police warned through the loudspeaker, shortly before shooting tear gas at the protesters. Prior to that officers were telling people to stay away from the vans.

Police were also shooting rubber bullets while smoke grenades and tear gas canisters were falling into the crowd and surrounding neighborhood. Meanwhile, some of the protesters reportedly threw rocks and bottles at the police.

Riot police clear a street with smoke bombs while clashing with demonstrators in Ferguson, Missouri August 13, 2014. (Reuters)

A protester throws back a smoke bomb while clashing with police in Ferguson, Missouri August 13, 2014. (Reuters)

Protesters were holding their hands up and chanting “we are peaceful” as the police line pushed forward dispersing the crowd.

Demonstrators march in the street while protesting the shooting death of black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri August 12, 2014. (Reuters)

However, there were reports of several rioters throwing Molotov cocktails at the police.

“Your right to assembly is not being denied,” police were telling the protesters before the sudden showdown.

Following the death of 18-year-old Ferguson teenager Michael Brown – he was shot by a police officer last weekend despite being unarmed – residents in the area have continued to put on public demonstrations against the police, who they believe acted with excessive and unnecessary force.

When they gathered again on Wednesday, they found themselves facing down dozens of SWAT team officers, who showed up to a reportedly peaceful protest fully armed and pointed their guns towards the crowd.

A police officer watches over demonstrators protesting the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown on August 13, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. (Scott Olson/Getty Images/AFP)

According to Huffington Post reporter Ryan J. Reilly, at least 70 SWAT officers showed up to the demonstration. Police apparently told the crowd to move, offering no explanation and saying simply, “This is not open for discussion.”

Protesters also snapped images of an armored vehicle near the demonstration – a truck described by some participants as a “tank.”

The show of force follows another controversial police intervention from earlier this week, in which officers used teargas and shot rubber bullets in order to break up the large crowds that gathered in the area.

Ferguson riots: Clashes, looting in Missouri following vigil for teen shot dead by police

Additionally, the Guardian’s Jon Swaine said he watched officers handcuff two reporters at the gathering and place them in a police vehicle. When he tried to confirm the identities of those detained, police in riot gear marched towards him and threatened to cuff him as well.

Those reporters turned out to be Reilly of the Huffington Post and Wesley Lowery of the Washington Post. Lowery tweeted that both of them were released with no charges, but added that he saw an African American man in a police truck screaming for a paramedic only to be ignored by police.

“I’m dying. I’m dying,” the man reportedly screamed. “Please call help.”

Police officers keep watch while demonstrators (not pictured) protest the death of black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri August 12, 2014. (Reuters)

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