FERGUSON, MISSOURI — Ferguson police will not release the name of the officer who shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown in the St. Louis suburb because of social media threats.
The department says it fears for the officer’s safety as violence escalates across the St. Louis suburb.
But withholding the officer’s name is causing even more outrage.
The officer claims Brown attacked him and tried to take his gun, but Brown’s friend, who was with him at the time of the shooting, is telling a very different story. He claims the officer targeted them, threatened to kill Brown, then fulfilled his promise.
At a news conference, Benjamin Crump, the attorney for Brown’s family, blasted the department’s decision to withhold the name. He was flanked by numerous Black leaders, including the Rev. Al Sharpton. Brown’s father also stood behind Crump.
That doesn’t give the community confidence. That doesn’t make it transparent,” Crump shouted, adding that if law enforcement is going to ask residents of Ferguson to obey the law, “then it’s got to work both ways.”
A vigil for the teen devolved into violent clashes with police Sunday as some looted stores. On Monday night, there was chaos again on the streets of the suburb of 21,000, which is predominantly black. Shots were fired, authorities said, and police used tear gas to disperse a crowd.
Sharpton stepped to the microphones Tuesday and urged that people in Ferguson not “betray the gentle giant” that Brown was by allowing their anger over his killing to lead to violence. “Don’t be a traitor to Michael Brown in the name of ‘you mad,’ ” Sharpton said, reminding that Brown’s parents are planning a funeral for their son, whom they had expected to head to college this week.
When it came time for Michael Brown Sr. to talk, he bowed his head and his voice was far less thunderous than Crump’s or Sharpton’s. “I need justice for my son,” he said.
Do the “right thing,” he added, saying that he understood that people had their “different pains” and “losses, too.” But refrain from acting out aggressively and protest peacefully, he urged.