ST. LOUIS, Mo. -- Frustrated with the national coverage of protests surrounding the death of Michael Brown, the unarmed black teen who was fatally shot by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, a few dozen people showed up in downtown St. Louis on Sunday afternoon to show solidarity with the officer who killed the 18-year-old.
Since officer Darren Wilson shot Brown on Aug. 9, there have been nightly protests in Ferguson. But the counterprotesters said they wanted the country to know that not everyone supported the Ferguson demonstrations, and wanted Wilson and his family to know that there were people who backed them.
The protesters gathered outside KSDK-TV, a local station that they said has been biased in its coverage of the controversy.
Word of the Wilson rally spread via Facebook, according to the attendees, who were overwhelmingly white. For a $7 donation, there were pro-Wilson T-shirts, and all 55 of them sold out quickly.
Still, the rally was significantly smaller than the protests around Brown's death. The Wilson supporters said they were worried about the officer's family and for the most part had little sympathy for individuals claiming that there are problems with police behavior in Ferguson.
"If you do what the police tell you do -- if you're not doing anything wrong, and the cops ask you to do something, then you're not going to have nothing to worry about," said Michael Bates, 33.
When asked why the pro-Wilson rally didn't have many African-American attendees, John Newshaw, a retired St. Louis County police officer, said, "This sounds wrong, but I don't think the black community understands the system. Again, there's a process. They're screaming about, why isn't he [Wilson] arrested, why isn't he in jail? Well, without the investigation being done, you can't go and apply for a warrant."
— Amanda Terkel (@aterkel) August 18, 2014
Newshaw criticized the Missouri Highway Patrol for "doing exactly what the violent protesters want" and trying to use more communication and less force.
"They're going to keep pushing the envelope," he said of demonstrators who've gotten violent during protests in Ferguson. "There's no reason to stop. ... It's as simple as training your dog. If you don't tell them stop biting, guess what, he's going to continue to bite."
— Amanda Terkel (@aterkel) August 18, 2014
The Brown killing has touched a chord with many in the African-American community and beyond that goes further than the shooting. Although a majority of Ferguson residents are black, the power structure there is still white. Ferguson's mayor and police chief are both white, as are six of the city's seven council members. (The seventh is Latino.) And just three members of Ferguson's 53-person police force are black. A 2013 report found a major racial disparity in stops and searches in Ferguson, with black individuals twice as likely to get arrested.
But Bates said he was frustrated that the issue was becoming a "race thing," saying that was besides the point.
Asked to interview a woman protestor out here. (Shown in the background.) She identified herself as Darren Wilson. pic.twitter.com/IIEpL5Xv1l
— Ryan J. Reilly (@ryanjreilly) August 17, 2014
"If everyone just stopped with the racism thing, it'd all just go away and everything would go to court and come out with the way the law is supposed to do it. Rioting and everything in the streets doesn't get anything done," he said.
The Missouri Highway Patrol, which is now in charge of security in Ferguson, declared a second curfew for Sunday night, in effect from midnight until 5:00 am CDT Monday morning. One person was shot and seven people were arrested in the early hours of Sunday morning, while the first curfew was in effect.
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BEFORE YOU GO
08/26/2014 7:49 AM EDT
The Toll On Michael Brown's Family
USA Today's Yamiche Alcindor provides an intimate look at how Michael Brown's parents have been dealing with the loss of their son:
Phones constantly ring with reporters asking for interviews or family members offering support. Last week, as demands reached a tipping point, both parents moved into hotels to shield themselves.
In the days leading up to the funeral, Brown's mother continued to cry and spoke in whispers as she tried to explain her feelings.
"They say tomorrow is going to be the hardest day, but I think today was — just seeing my baby laying there, cold," Lesley McSpadden, 34, told USA TODAY. "It did something to my heart. It's too much. It's too much."
08/26/2014 7:44 AM EDT
New Audio Allegedly Captures Moment Michael Brown Was Shot
New audio has surfaced that allegedly captures the moment when Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, was shot dead by Darren Wilson, a white police officer, on Aug. 9.
CNN aired the unverified recording on Monday night. Six shots can be heard, followed by a pause, then several more. A private autopsy performed on Aug. 17 at the request of Brown's family found that the 18-year-old was shot 6 times, including twice in the head.
08/25/2014 12:58 PM EDT
Al Sharpton: America, It's Time To Deal With Policing
08/25/2014 12:53 PM EDT
Al Sharpton: All Of Us Are Required To Respond
Rev. Al Sharpton: All of us are required to respond to this #MikeBrownfuneral— HuffPost BlackVoices (@blackvoices) August 25, 2014
08/25/2014 12:48 PM EDT
Benjamin Crump: We Will Not Accept Three-Fifths Justice For Michael Brown
08/25/2014 12:28 PM EDT
Funeral Program Includes Tribute From Michael Brown's Parents
USA Today reporter, Yamiche Alcindor shares photo of program which includes tributes to Michael Brown from his mother and father
08/25/2014 12:22 PM EDT
Michael Brown's Stepmother: He Prophesied His Own Death
Stepmother of #MichaelBrown said the late teen "pretty much prophesied his own death and didn't realize it."— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) August 25, 2014