Aug 18, 2014 12:49 AM by Maddie Garrett
The cry for peace after riots in Ferguson, Missouri, are now being made here in Southern Colorado. Sunday morning, the Payne Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Colorado Springs held a special service addressing the unrest in Ferguson and the shooting death of unarmed teenager, Michael Brown, by police.
The service included a moment of silence and representatives from both the El Paso County Sheriff's Office and Colorado Springs Police were there. The goal was to call for peace and non-violent protests, not only in Ferguson, but here in our area as well.
" We need to begin to view law enforcement as our friends, not as the enemy so if our children can be part of the movement it will be worth while," said Rev. Olga Copeland of Payne Chapel AME.
At that church service was a man who grew up in Ferguson. Dr. Anthony Miller is watching in dismay all of the violence erupting in his hometown.
"The place I used to go to the swimming pool at is now a war zone," said Miller.
A war zone that was building up Saturday and Sunday nights, in the hours before a newly implemented curfew.
'The Quik Trip that got set on fire, I was 4 blocks away from there as a kid," said Miller.
Miller finds the violence unfolding in his hometown unimaginable.
"Its been heart breaking. Absolutely heart breaking," he said of the riots.
While many protesters are obeying the curfews and clearing the streets, on group pressed on in defiance Saturday night. Tensions escalated to a boiling point, and just after midnight police opened fire with smoke canisters and tear gas.
Officers said their actions were appropriate, in order to deal with other crisis that night.
" I tell you that we have a shooting victim that is in critical condition that may lose their life we has someoe standing in the middle of the road with a handgun we had a police car shot at tonight and yes I think that was a proper response," said Missouri Highway Patrol Captain Ronald Johnson.
Most of the protests have been peaceful since August 9, when 18-year-old Brown was shot and killed. Miller said he can understand where the anger in the community is coming from.
"I specifically remember instances where police would deliberately target young African American males," said Miller.
Many people in Ferguson believe the police officer targeted Brown because he was black.
"The police automatically target African Americans. Automatically," Miller added.
Ferguson Police tell a different story, that Brown attacked the officer, trying to take his weapon. But a witness strongly disputes that claim, saying Brown was trying to run from the officer when he was shot and killed.
But despite the outrage, Miller said he doesn't believe answering violence with more violence will help anyone.
"I just don't think the looting, I don't think the brutality is going to get us in direction we need to go," he said.
On Sunday, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder asked that federal investigators do their own autopsy on Brown's body. The original report did not specify how many times he was shot. Brown's family is holding off on funeral arrangements until that autopsy can be done.