Hundreds of angry protesters have clashed with police in the US city of St. Louis for a second consecutive night after a white police officer fatally shot another black teenager.
As many as 400 demonstrators chanted and marched through St. Louis in the state of Missouri on Thursday night following loud protests the night before over the shooting death of 18-year-old Vonderrit Myers Jr. by an off-duty white policeman on Wednesday.
The latest police shooting took place two months after Darren Wilson, a white police officer shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, a predominantly black suburb of St. Louis, sparking weeks of violent protests.
Thursday’s demonstration over Myers’ death grew increasingly chaotic overnight with police arresting several protesters and one officer getting slightly injured.
Several American flags were also burned and stomped on by the protesters. “It’s not our flag,” said Elizabeth Vega, an artist who said she had been protesting since Brown’s death. “Our children are being killed in the street. This flag doesn’t cover black or brown people.”
Gina Gowdy, 46, stood for hours waving an upside-down American flag. “I have three grandsons,” she said. “This has to stop. They are assassinating our black young men. People are fed up.”
The St. Louis police department has refused to identify the 32-year-old off-duty officer who was working for a private security firm when he killed Myers.
St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson told reporters that the black teen got into “physical alteration” with the policeman before he was fatally wounded. He said the suspect allegedly turned and “pointed a gun at the officer and fired at least three rounds at the officer.”
The victim’s family, however, contend that the police are lying. “The police are lying,” Joseph Cotton, Myers’s grandfather, said outside the family home on Thursday.
The victim’s mother told The Associated Press by phone Thursday that her son wasn’t carrying a gun, as police claim. Syreeta Myers said her son was holding a sandwich when he was killed. “Police lie. They lied about Michael Brown, too,” she said.
Several civil rights organizations and protest groups have planned marches during the weekend over the killing of Michael Brown with Myers’ death on Wednesday expected to add fuel to the fire.
Police brutality and the unnecessary use of heavy-handed tactics have become a major concern across the US in recent years. US police shoot and kill an average of 1,000 people a year, 1 in 4 of whom are unarmed, according to a report by the Police Policy Studies Council.