Many Arrests in Ferguson as Another Police Shooting Sparks New Outrage in STL

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Police get ready to make an arrest Tuesday in Ferguson.
  • Police get ready to make an arrest Tuesday in Ferguson.

Tuesday saw two protests over separate police shootings: the continuation of the Ferguson saga and a new protest in north St. Louis over the killing of a man armed only with what witnesses claim was a butter knife.

The new protest sprung up in front of the location of St. Louis' latest police shooting. Early Tuesday, 23-year-old Kajieme Powell was shot dead by an officer of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department. According to witnesses, Powell walked out of the store on Riverview Boulevard and MacLaren Avenue without paying for a pastry.

When police encountered him, he acted strangely -- talking to himself and talking to officers about how his mother had recently died. Witnesses say Powell had mental-health problems.

See all Riverfront Times coverage of Michael Brown and Ferguson.

At one point, Powell took out a knife and came towards the police officers. When he came within several feet and reached back with the knife, he was shot dead.

After the killing, people gathered around the convenience store to talk about the shooting. The crowd built-up after a few hours, according to bystanders. And many were angry and looking for answers.

"They shot another black boy," a mother was overheard saying to her young daughter.

"Both officers fired at least five shots from their weapons," said Robert Addison, who says he witnessed the killing. "I thought it was excessive. Shooting him multiple times like that? He was going down from the one shot. They opened up on him."

Approximately 100 people were gathered on the corner where Powell was shot, watched closely by a group of police officers.

Standing on a corner with a sign that read, "My son was killed by police, too," Betty Davis, 59, said she's still looking for justice. She said she was never given details of the investigation conducted by the SLMPD. Just a few days ago, she was in Ferguson to protest another police shooting.

"When I came out to protest about a week ago, I was hoping somebody would let me speak out," she said. "They let me speak, and it felt like a burden was lifted off of me. Seems like somebody will try to get me some help."

In front of the store, three young men were holding a religious service as another group chanted. Many more were hanging out, talking about police brutality. A young man pointed to a red-light camera that appears to be pointed directly at the scene where Powell was killed.

"I want to know what's on that camera," he told his friends. "But I bet you they erase everything and say they 'lost the footage.'"

For Addison, there's no doubt that Ferguson has influenced the reaction to this shooting.

"I believe they're gonna take it a little harder based on the situation with Mike Brown right now," he said.

In Ferguson, Tuesday's protest was one of the more peaceful since demonstrations began there August 10, if only because chemical weapons weren't deployed. But a haphazard evacuation led to a late-night onslaught that resulted in more than 50 arrests. The daytime protests were a repeat of Monday's experiment, which involved forcing protesters to walk up and down the street with the occasional threat of arrest for those who stood in one area for too long.

It's not a popular plan. Many protesters feel their right to protest is being squeezed.

"The protesters are peaceful out here, and all the cops are doing is denying us our constitutional rights," said Markis Thompson, 26, a youth director at a nearby church.

Several people have told Daily RFT that they believe the "keep walking" rule is just a way to tire out protesters and make it so hard to demonstrate that they give up. Nonetheless, hundreds of people marched on a street that police have turned into a protest playpen.

Click on the next page to read more about the police in Ferguson.

Captain Ron Johnson of the Missouri Highway Patrol told a group of reporters Monday that he doesn't consider his "keep walking" rule unconstitutional.

As the night wore on in Ferguson, it appeared that the new approach to not flaunting the military trucks or creating riot-police lines was working.

But as some demonstrators went home, the remainder of the crowd turned younger and feistier. Police began to get in formation, forming riot lines in front in various areas and clearing people out of parking lots. They were getting ready to mobilize and clear the crowd of the young, angry protesters by using more tear gas.

Even though he knew what was going to happen, 42-year-old Melvin Moffitt explained why he was going to stay: "We're here to get justice for Mike Brown, and we ain't leaving until we get justice for Mike Brown."

He said that in addition to the killing of Brown at the hands of a white police officer, it's the whole system he's fed up with, especially the traffic-ticket system.

"Look at these county jails. The majority of the people in there is black folks, and the majority of these counties are owned by white folks," he said. "And for what? Minor traffic shit. They don't do their own kind like that. Why they gotta do us like that?"

Christian Bourne, 23, stood with friends, ready with two bottles of milk to administer to people hit by tear gas.

"I'm just here for the people, especially the ones that are peaceful," she said. "Because once they tear gas, it affects everyone, and I want them to be safe and get it out of their system as soon as possible."

When riot police military-like gear got in formation, they became the target of the angry protesters' frustration, and a water bottle was thrown.

That's all it took for the police to order dispersal. They began arresting protesters while shoving media into a special media location.

During the push (which was awkwardly coordinated, with several officers unsure of how far to go or even where to go), officers rushed into the media crowd to go after any young black man they saw.

A protester who gave his name as John, said even demonstrators in the designated protest area were kicked out. Several were arrested for refusing to leave.

Approximately 47 protesters were arrested Tuesday.

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E-mail him at Ray.Downs@RiverfrontTimes.com.

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