Ferguson Police Clash With Protesters on Michael Brown's Death Anniversary

Police in Ferguson, Missouri charged on protesters on the sixth anniversary of Michael Brown's fatal shooting, blasting pepper spray and using batons.

A crowd had gathered outside the headquarters of the Ferguson Police Department earlier on Sunday evening—exactly six years after Brown, an unarmed Black 18-year-old, was shot dead by a Ferguson police officer, sparking months of often violent protests.

Outside the police department on Sunday, there appeared to be a celebratory vibe to the protest that later turned to chaos, according to videos posted on social media.

Police just told protesters to move back, and then police advanced and sprayed pepper spray. Bottles were thrown after the advance pic.twitter.com/kFVzI7TlnX

— Rachel D. Rice (@RachelDRice) August 10, 2020

People were dancing in the street, blocking traffic and some protesters removed a temporary gate from the front of the police headquarters, Rachel Rice, a reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, tweeted.

Police in riot gear later faced off against protesters before advancing toward the crowd. Among them was Brown's father.

"Mike Brown Sr. is just standing and looking at the line of police. Staring them down," Rice tweeted.

"Police just told protesters to move back, and then police advanced and sprayed pepper spray. Bottles were thrown after the advance," she wrote alongside a video of the scene.

Journalist Chuck Modi also shared video of the moment police rushed toward protesters, writing alongside it: "#Ferguson police attack crowd, beat on protesters and make arrests."

Modi shared another video showing that filmmaker Chris Phillips, of Maverick Media Group, was among those pepper-sprayed.

"I didn't hear no dispersal... I just know that they mobbed and rushed the street and I just went out there, he shot their junk at me, I didn't have the camera raised up... he just shot it at me," Phillips says in the clip.

In response to questions about officers knowing Phillips is media, he replied: "They don't care."

Phillips documented the protests that erupted in the aftermath of Brown's death and made an award-winning film, Ferguson 365.

#Ferguson police attack crowd, beat on protesters and make arrests.

Again, this is on 6th Anniversary of protests for Michael Brown, Jr pic.twitter.com/Rcc5EV8Hqx

— ChuckModi (@ChuckModi1) August 10, 2020

Chris Phillips of Maverick Media was pepper-sprayed. He is well-known media by everyone in Ferguson and STL. This is what journalists deal with in Ferguson since 2014.

6th Anniversary of Michael Brown Jr. murder. #MikeBrown pic.twitter.com/jhLknFsQLa

— ChuckModi (@ChuckModi1) August 10, 2020

In a piece for Newsweek to mark the sixth anniversary, Phillips recalled finding out the teenager had been killed less than 500 feet from his doorstep.

He also said little has changed for Black people in the years since Brown's shooting—and that the protests for George Floyd, who was killed by Minneapolis police in May, were similar to those that took place in Ferguson.

"I really have a hard time saying that I've seen true progression in the past six years. The amount of change that has happened is so miniscule; one police department out of thousands doing something, changing a policy or getting body cameras," he wrote.

"And accountability has not changed—we don't see consequences for the unjust killings of Black people at the hands of the police, and we don't see laws and policies changing to protect them."

Brown was fatally shot by a white police officer, Darren Wilson, after a confrontation on August 9, 2014.

A Missouri grand jury and the U.S. Justice Department later declined to charge Wilson, who resigned in November 2014.

The shooting sparked months of protests in Ferguson, a city that is majority African American but whose police force is almost entirely white, and served as a catalyst for the Black Lives Matter movement.

Late last month, St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell sparked anger after announcing that charges would not be filed against Wilson after conducting a review of the evidence in the case.

Bell said his investigation did not exonerate Wilson, but he had decided there was not sufficient evidence to pursue murder or manslaughter charges.

A protester faces off with law enforcement during a protest at the Ferguson Police Department on May 31, 2020 in Ferguson, Missouri. Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images