- Mayor James Knowles said on Tuesday that Ferguson has been ‘a model for the region’
- Peaceful demonstrations on Tuesday disintegrated into clashes with police which led to 47 arrests after cops claim they were hit with bottles of urine
- The community of 2,200 residents – which is two-thirds African-American – has erupted over the cop shooting of an unarmed black teenager
- Attorney General Eric Holder set to arrive in Ferguson today to meet with FBI carrying out an independent federal investigation into Brown’s death
Louise Boyle for MailOnline
12:44 GMT, 20 August 2014
13:02 GMT, 20 August 2014
Ferguson’s mayor insisted there is no racial divide in his city hours before the streets once again were rocked by violent clashes between a largely African-American community and white police force.
Mayor James Knowles said on Tuesday that Ferguson has been ‘a model for the region’ – and that 95 per cent of people who live the town would agree with him.
The streets of Ferguson were filled with protesters for the tenth night running on Tuesday, angered at the cop shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown on August 9.
The peaceful demonstrations disintegrated into a series of clashes that led to 47 arrests, with police claiming they were pelted with bottles of urine.
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Delusional? Ferguson Mayor James Knowles said in an interview on Tuesday that there was ‘no racial divide’ in Ferguson before the city descended into another night of violent protests
Police arrest a man as they disperse a protest in Ferguson in the early hours of Wednesday. A few hours earlier the city’s mayor said there was ‘no racial divide’ in the community
In an interview on MSNBC’s NewsNation, Mayor Knowles said: ‘There’s not a racial divide in the city of Ferguson. That is the perspective of all residents in our city. Absolutely.’
Mayor Knowles said he believed ‘the 95 percentile’ of Ferguson residents had faith in the community leaders and that violence on the streets was ‘being caused by a very small number of protesters coming from outside of our community’.
He conceded that the lack of diversity in the Ferguson police force had to be addressed. Only three of the 53 officers are African-American.
The mayor said the protests were not representative of Ferguson’s community of 2,200 residents, where 67 per cent of residents are black.
‘Ferguson as we’ve become more African-American, we’ve focused on things that unite us and not divide us, ‘ Knowles said.
City leaders had urged people to stay home after dark on Tuesday to ‘allow peace to settle in’ and pledged to try to improve the police force in the St. Louis suburb.
In a public statement, the city said the mayor, the City Council and employees have been exploring ways to increase the number of African-American applicants to the law enforcement academy, develop incentive programs to encourage city residency for police officers and raise money for cameras that would be attached to patrol car dashboards and officers’ vests.
Police arrested dozens of protesters on West Florissant Avenue after they refused to leave the area and some began throwing objects at officers early on Wednesday
The statement said: ‘We plan to learn from this tragedy, as we further provide for the safety of our residents and businesses and progress our community through reconciliation and healing.’
The St Louis suburb still had plenty of lively protest on Tuesday but the overall scene was more subdued than the past five nights, with smaller crowds, fewer confrontations and no tear gas.
Police said they still made 47 arrests, mainly of people who defied orders to disperse.
The slight easing of tensions came as Attorney General Eric Holder is set to arrive in Ferguson to meet with FBI and other officials carrying out an independent federal investigation into Brown’s death.
In a letter published late on Tuesday on the St. Louis Post-Dispatch website, Holder promised a thorough investigation while calling for an end to the violence in Ferguson. He said the bond of trust between law enforcement and the public is ‘all-important’ but also ‘fragile.’
Arrest patterns ‘must not lead to disparate treatment under the law, even if such treatment is unintended. And police forces should reflect the diversity of the communities they serve,’ Holder wrote.
Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson (left) shot dead unarmed teenager Michael Brown (right) on August 9 sparking ten days of violent protests in the streets of the city
He said the Justice Department would ‘defend the right of protesters to peacefully demonstrate and for the media to cover a story that must be told’.
The department has mounted an unusually swift and aggressive response to Brown’s death, from conducting an independent autopsy to sending dozens of FBI agents to Ferguson in search of witnesses to the shooting.
A grand jury also could begin hearing evidence on Wednesday to determine whether the officer, Darren Wilson, should be charged in Brown’s death, said Ed Magee, spokesman for St. Louis County’s prosecuting attorney.
Wilson was recognized during a Ferguson City Council meeting in February, getting special recognition for what Police Chief Thomas Jackson said then was his role in responding to a report of a suspicious vehicle, then struggling with the driver and detaining him until help arrived. Jackson said the suspect was preparing a large quantity of marijuana for sale.
Missouri Governor Jay Nixon said Tuesday that he would not seek the removal of the prosecutor overseeing the investigation into Brown’s death.
St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch’s deep family connections to police have been cited by some black leaders who question his ability to be impartial. McCulloch’s father, mother, brother, uncle and cousin all worked for the St. Louis Police Department, and his father was killed while responding to a call involving a black suspect.
Nixon said he would not ask McCulloch to leave the case, citing the ‘well-established process’ by which prosecutors can recuse themselves from pending investigations to make way for a special prosecutor.
Departing from that process, Nixon said in a statement, ‘could unnecessarily inject legal uncertainty into this matter and potentially jeopardize the prosecution.’
McCulloch, a Democrat, was elected in 1991 and has earned a reputation for being tough on crime.
Ferguson city leaders said the mayor, the City Council and municipal employees have been exploring ways to increase the number of African-American applicants to the law enforcement academy, develop incentive programs to encourage city residency for police officers and raise money for cameras that would be attached to patrol car dashboards and officers’ vests.
‘We plan to learn from this tragedy, as we further provide for the safety of our residents and businesses and progress our community through reconciliation and healing,’ officials said in a public statement.
Benjamin Crump, an attorney for Brown’s family, said the 18-year-old’s funeral and memorial service would be Monday. The time and location had not been finalize