FAA Orders No-Fly Zone Over Missouri Amid Violent Protests

Wednesday, 13 Aug 2014 01:39 PM

By Andrea Billups

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The Federal Aviation Administration has instituted a no-fly zone in Ferguson, Missouri, after violent protesters, angry over the killing of an unarmed black teen by police, shot at a helicopter on Tuesday, Time reports.

The order, in effect through Aug. 18, is limited to flights that go below 3,000 feet, the FAA said, noting it was issued to protect first responders and law enforcement. Those with private aircraft are also limited in that airspace for a three-mile radius around the town of about 21,000 people, located near St. Louis.

The FAA responded to requests from law enforcement for the no-fly zone after a police helicopter was shot at from the ground multiple times as angry protesters took to the streets amid growing racial unrest over the killing of Michael Brown Jr.

Brown, 18, and set to start college two days after he was killed, has been described by family as peaceful and a strong student, someone who would avoid violence — not the stereotype of a law-breaking thug that many in the black community there have repudiated. His grandmother, Desuirea Harris, with whom Brown was visiting when the incident occurred, told TV station KMOV that he was "a good kid."

"He came to visit me, and they did that to him for no reason," she said.

Police, who have said some kind of scuffle occurred on the street where Brown walked with a friend, have to yet release the name of the officer who shot Brown. He is described as white and six-year veteran of the force. Early details of the shooting offer conflicting details, CNN reported, with one side saying Brown threw his hands in the air in surrender, causing the officer to react and draw his gun. The other claims Brown allegedly fought with the officer and they struggled with the weapon.

Witness Dorian Johnson was walking with Brown when the shooting occurred and told television station KSDK that the teen never attempted to grab the officer's gun. "It was definitely like being shot like an animal. It was almost putting someone on execution," Johnson described.

The incident has drawn national outrage and protests from residents and civil rights activists who have taken to the streets, raising their hands in a surrender posture to evoke solidarity. They have demanded a fair investigation and have thronged the city, chanting "no justice, no peace."

On Wednesday morning, an officer shot and wounded one man as riot police stood vigil on the city's streets, facing off against protesters. Meanwhile, peace vigils have been held in local churches, and the teen's father has called for a halt to the violence.

President Barack Obama has called for a full investigation as the FBI's probe of the incident continues, Reuters reported. He has ordered a full investigation by the Justice Department.

"I know the events of the past few days have prompted strong passions, but ... I urge everyone in Ferguson, Missouri, and across the country, to remember this young man through reflection and understanding," the president said in a statement.

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