NORTH ST. LOUIS, Mo. — Michael Brown died, ostensibly, because police considered him a suspect in the theft of a $50 box of cigars. On Tuesday, a 23-year-old man apparently died for much the same reason, again at the hands of police.
The unnamed man allegedly stole energy drinks and pastries from a convenience store, approached two police officers who arrived on scene, and told them “kill me now” as he reportedly brandished a knife. The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Chief said at a press conference shortly thereafter that the officers issued verbal commands, and when the suspect didn’t comply, opened fire.
Like Brown, he was black. Several people from the neighborhood told The Daily Beast the man was mentally unstable. Whatever the circumstances, the shooting couldn’t come at a worse time.
“It’s going to break out here the same way it did in Ferguson,” said Leon Nelson of the protests that have consumed the St. Louis suburb, just three miles down West Florissant Avenue from site of Tuesday’s shooting.
While Monday night’s clashes in Ferguson had a feel of provocation simply for the sake of it, with outside agitators and a fringe element of protesters fueling the incitement of police, Tuesday may bring a return to unabated rage over this most recent killing by police.
Many in Ferguson, and at the scene in North St. Louis, believe Brown should still be alive. As for the man laying behind bright orange sheets erected by police: “That boy shouldn’t be dead either.”
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Local pastors whose leadership was indispensable in their initial prevention of violence Monday night have asked for the Ferguson protest zone to be extended. That may mean protesters from Ferguson and any who materialize in North St. Louis could join up and form one crowd unified by the death of two black men by police.
The National Guard, whose mission has so far only been to protect a shopping mall referred to by police as the “Unified Command Center,” might play a larger role tonight.
"People are fed up and they should be,” said Nelson, a 68-year-old Vietnam veteran who lives in the neighborhood where today’s fatal shooting occurred. “It’s sickening. I’m so sorry that I went to Vietnam to fight for what I thought was right only to come back to this.”