Protest erupts following police killing of black teenager in Berkeley, US 

protest in Us

New York, Dec 25: A crowd of people protested the killing of a black teenager, Antonio Martin, by a white police officer at St. Louis suburb of Berkeley, near Ferguson where another unarmed black man was shot dead by a white police officer last month.

The demonstration of about 300 people reignited the tensions that have lingered since the death of Michael Brown.

The mayor of the St. Louis suburb of Berkeley urged calm Wednesday arguing the killing was a defensive act of the police as 18-year-old Martin had a gun and he had pointed the gun at the police.

The crowd that gathered at the gas station where Martin was shot late Tuesday and threw rocks and bricks in a scene reminiscent of the sometimes-violent protests that followed Brown’s death.

Dozens of protesters met at the gas station Wednesday night for a vigil, then marched to Interstate 170, at times blocking traffic, before returning to the station, according to local media reports.

Berkeley Police Chief Frank McCall told KMOV-TV that six to eight people were arrested.

Unlike the shooting of Brown, which was not captured on video, Berkeley Mayor Theodore Hoskins said surveillance footage appeared to show Martin pulling a gun on the unidentified 34-year-old officer who questioned him and another man about a theft at a convenience store.

“You couldn’t even compare this with Ferguson or the Garner case in New York,” Hoskins said, referring to the chokehold death of Eric Garner, another black man killed by a white police officer.

Hoskins, who is black, also noted that unlike in Ferguson, where a mostly white police force serves a mostly black community, more than half of the officers in his city of 9,000 are black, including top command staff.

St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar did not provide more details about the theft Martin was being asked about. He said Martin pulled a loaded 9mm handgun and the officer fired three shots while stumbling backward. One hit Martin, who didn’t fire his own gun. He died on the spot.

Police throughout the country have been on alert since two New York officers were gunned down in an ambush last weekend by a black man who had made threatening posts online about killing police. He later killed himself.

Phone messages left for his parents were not returned. His mother, Toni Martin-Green, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that Antonio was the oldest of four children.

Police try to control a crowd Wednesday, Dec. 24, 2014, on the lot of a gas station following a shooting Tuesday in Berkeley,

Police try to control a crowd Wednesday, Dec. 24, 2014, on the lot of a gas station following a shooting Tuesday in Berkeley,

“He’s like any other kid who had dreams or hopes,” she said. “We loved being around him. He’d push a smile out of you.”

His was the third fatal shooting of a young black man by a white police officer in the St. Louis area since Brown was killed by Ferguson officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9. Kajieme Powell, 25, was killed Aug. 19 after approaching St. Louis officers with a knife. Vonderrit Myers, 18, was fatally shot on Oct. 8 after allegedly shooting at a St. Louis officer.

Each killing has led to protests, as did a grand jury’s decision last month not to charge Wilson in Brown’s death.

More than 50 police officers responded to protests Tuesday. Belmar said officers used pepper spray but not tear gas. Four people were arrested on charges of assaulting officers.

Belmar said three explosive devices, perhaps fireworks, were tossed near gas pumps. One officer hit by a brick was treated for facial cuts, and another was treated for a leg injury sustained as he retreated from an explosive.

 

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