Why the shooting of Michael Brown has caused so much anger in the US

Evan Bartlett@ev_bartlett
Tuesday 12 August 2014 19:30
news

What happened?

Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager, was shot multiple times by police in the town of Ferguson, Missouri on Saturday afternoon. The 18-year-old was said to be in the area visiting his grandmother.

There are still conflicting reports as to what exactly happened - eyewitnesses claim the teenager was shot while trying to surrender while the police claim he assaulted an officer. Police confirmed the officer involved has been put on "paid administrative leave".

Whatever the series of events were, Brown's death sparked a series of demonstrations and clashes between police and protesters have been ongoing since.

What has the reaction been?

American media coverage of the story was criticised for its sensationalised portrayal of Brown - the hashtag #IfTheyGunnedMeDown was used on Twitter to highlight the way young black victims are demonised by some sections of the media.

Shops were looted on Sunday and Monday as confrontations between police and protesters grew more violent - tear gas and wooden bullets were used by police in tactics that have been described as excessive by some.

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An estimated 40 people have been arrested as a result of the clashes.

What's the context?

Brown's death is one of the most high profile shootings of an unarmed black teenager since Trayvon Martin, 17, was shot by George Zimmerman, a neighbourhood watch officer in Florida in 2012 - Zimmerman was acquitted of murder charges.

We're outraged because yet again a young African-American man has been killed by law enforcement.

  • John Gaskin, from the St Louis branch of American civil rights group NAACP

Eric Garner, also unarmed, died after reportedly being put in a choke-hold by a police officer in New York last month and revived the discussion about police violence towards young black men in the United States.

One officer was caught on video by CNN shouting at protesters "Bring it, you f###ing animals":

In 2012, 589 people were shot by police in the United States, 313 of those shot were black. As Ampp3d reports, 13 per cent of the American population are African-American, yet in 2012 more than half of the victims of police shootings were black.

So, what happens next?

FBI agents are now involved and will run an investigation alongside the one being run by the local St Louis police department.

The police have refused to give the name or ethnicity of the officer who shot Brown citing threats to his personal safety.

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