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Escalating tensions

Marcus Lütticke / db August 18, 2014

Ferguson remains in turmoil after a police officer shot and killed an unarmed black teenager more than a week ago. DW has a chronology of events.

A protester reaches down to throw back a smoke canister as police clear a street. (Photo: REUTERS/Lucas Jackson)
Image: Reuters

August 9, 2014: Eighteen-year-old Michael Brown is shot around noon by a policeman in Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis, Missouri. At first, there are conflicting statements about the circumstances of the deadly shots. According to the police, Brown tried to steal cigars from a convenience store and was acting "aggressively" before he was shot. A witness told journalists a different story: Brown, he said, was on his way to his grandmother's house and when he was shot at, he raised his hands. Like most of Ferguson's residents, Brown was African American.

August 10, 2014: Police hold a news conference in the morning. St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar says Michael Brown first pushed the police officer who shot at him into the squad car, and "attacked" him there. A first shot went off in the car, without hitting anyone, and the lethal shots were fired outside of the squad car. Additional reporters' questions concerning the course of events remain unanswered.

In the afternoon, people gather near the crime scene in Michael Brown's memory. Some pray, others protest peacefully against the police. That evening and night, the protests turn violent and surrounding stores are looted. Shots are fired at a police helicopter.

Michael Brown with little sister. (Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Michael, seen here with his sisterImage: Scott Olson/Getty Images

August 11, 2014: Cleanup efforts get underway after a night of violence. In the afternoon, Michael Brown's parents urge people to stay calm. But in the evening and overnight, there are more protests, violence and lootings. For the first time, the police use tear gas.

August 12, 2014: The police refuse to identify the name of the officer who shot Brown. US President Barack Obama calls on the people of Ferguson to remain calm and offers condolences to Brown's family. This is the third night of violent protests, tear gas and armored vehicles.

August 13, 2014: During the day, people in Ferguson protest peacefully. The public criticizes the police force's menacing behaviour. Violence erupts again in the evening hours and again, police use tear gas and stun grenades.

August 14, 2014: President Obama calls for "peace and quiet" in Ferguson. Missouri Governor Jay Nixon transfers leadership of the police operation to the Missouri State Highway Patrol. The mission is headed by Ronald Jonson, an African American from Ferguson. In the early evening hours, people gather for a peaceful protest against police violence at St. Louis' iconic Gateway Arch, Michael Brown's family among them. The night in Ferguson remains quiet.

Masked individuals carry items out of a liquor store. (Photo: REUTERS/Lucas Jackson)
Police use force to stop lootingImage: Reuters

August 15, 2014: In the morning, the police identify the man who shot Brown as six-year police veteran Darren Wilson, a white police officer with a clean record. That night, there are peaceful protests, while at the same time, the looting continues. Looters and demonstrators clash. The police are present, but reserved.

August 16, 2014: Governor Nixon declares a state of emergency and imposes a midnight-to-5 a.m. curfew in Ferguson. Violence and looting continue unabated.

August 17, 2014: An expert opinion commissioned by Michael Brown's parents shows that Brown was hit by six bullets - two in the head and four in his right arm, all of them from the front. That evening, rioting starts even before the beginning of the nightly curfew. Individual demonstrators hurl Molotov cocktails at the police. Police claim shots are fired in the crowd. The police use tear gas to disperse demonstrators.

August 18, 2014: Early in the morning, Governor Nixon signs orders calling National Guard troops to intervene in Ferguson.