Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Long-Simmering Anger Over Police Violence Erupts At St. Louis Forum

ST. LOUIS, Mo. -- It was roughly two hours into the forum on Tuesday night, hosted in a college auditorium by local hip-hop station HOT 104.1, when Cary Ball Sr. decided he had heard enough.

Ball, a large man wearing a plain white T-shirt, gray fitted baseball cap and cargo shorts, was here to attend a discussion about the issues raised in the wake of the death of an unarmed, black 18-year-old in the nearby suburb of Ferguson earlier this month.

Michael Brown was killed by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9. Both the Saint Louis County Police and the FBI are investigating the circumstances surrounding the shooting that ended Brown's life. The Ferguson Police Department wasn't represented on the stage Tuesday night, and many people in attendance were from the greater St. Louis area rather than Ferguson specifically. But everyone in the audience seemed ready to unleash their long-simmering frustration over policing as well as de facto segregation in the greater St. Louis area, which Brown's death has brought into the media spotlight.

Like many people in the crowd, Ball was angry. But he had a particular connection to Brown's death, and it was something that St. Louis Metropolitan Police Chief Sam Dotson said that set him off. After Dotson reassured an audience member that his department would have been more compassionate if Brown's death had occurred in the city of St. Louis, Ball rushed to the edge of the stage, pointing and screaming at the head of the department.

"You lying bro!" Ball shouted. "You ain't called me! I'm Cary Ball Sr. You ain't never called me when my son got shot!"

Ball told HuffPost afterward that after his son was shot to death at the end of a high-speed chase in the city last year, the chief never called him. Unlike Brown, the younger Ball did have a gun. He also reportedly had a violent criminal history. But his family and supporters claim he had already dropped the weapon when police unloaded bullets into the 25-year-old's body.

"They did not let me see my son," Ball said. "When I seen my son, it was when I opened up the casket at his funeral."


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