In The Absence Of Answers, Protests Fill Ferguson's Silence

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The community of Ferguson, Mo., remains on edge after a police shooting left an unarmed black teenager dead over the weekend. Clashes have erupted between protesters and police, and an officer was involved in another shooting overnight.


From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.


And I'm Melissa Block. There are still lots of questions about what happened on Saturday in Ferguson, Missouri, that led to the death of an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown. We know he was walking down the street in the middle of the day and passed a police car. We know he was shot and killed by an officer. And even after a news conference today, we don't know much more. Police Chief Thomas Jackson said there's no video of the shooting. And he did not name the officer, something the community has been calling for in protests. As NPR's David Schaper reports from Ferguson, the lack of information continues to fuel anger.

DAVID SCHAPER, BYLINE: There is one new bit of new information today according to Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson, and it's about the officer who got into a scuffle with and then shot and killed unarmed teenager Michael Brown.

THOMAS JACKSON: He was injured. He's got - the side of his face is swollen, but he was taken to the hospital and treated for that.

SCHAPER: But Jackson added no other new details about what led to the confrontation and the shooting. The investigation into it is being handled by St. Louis County authorities. The prosecuting attorney late today said the case will go to a grand jury for a thorough review which could take some time. And that lack of detail from officials is frustrating many Ferguson residents, including 20-year-old Marcus Mopkins.

MARCUS MOPKINS: They don't want to give out no information or say what happened or who done what. But we all know what happened.

SCHAPER: A friend who was with Brown Saturday says the police officer initiated the confrontation and shot the 18-year-old several times as he had his hands up. The initial autopsy report only says Brown died of gunshot wounds, but not how many times he had been shot. Final results won't be released for weeks. And Ferguson police won't release the name of the officer who shot the teenager - for now citing death threats. Those concerns were echoed at a community meeting last night by St. Louis County prosecutor Robert McCulloch, who says the officer will be identified if he's charged.

ROBERT MCCULLOCH: What we're also mindful of the power that we have by naming somebody. And if nothing comes of it, then we've done some damage and we don't want to do any of that. So we just don't release names until there's an actual charge filed into public record.

SCHAPER: But answers like that don't satisfy young men in Ferguson such as Marcus Mopkins.

MOPKINS: I just - I'm fed up. I'm ready to cause damage myself.

SCHAPER: But other Ferguson residents insist there are only very few of them who feel that way. Community and religious leaders continue to call for demonstrators to remain peaceful. And Ferguson police are asking people to stay off the streets after dark. David Schaper, NPR News in Ferguson, Missouri.

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