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Monday, May 20, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Ferguson Unrest Has Ripples in St. Louis

ST. LOUIS (CN) - Citing the ongoing unrest in Ferguson, a popular St. Louis fund raiser benefitting families of fallen police officers and firefighters has been postponed.

The Guns and Hoses boxing event has been a Thanksgiving Eve staple in St. Louis for 27 years. The 28th edition will have to wait.

The event, which pits police officers and firefighters in a card of three-round exhibition boxing matches, benefits the Backstoppers organization, which provides financial assistance to the families of police officers and firefighters who died in the line of duty.

Last year's event at Scottrade Center drew 17,000 people.

Backstoppers executive director Ron Battelle, a former St. Louis County police chief, told KTVI-TV that the unrest in Ferguson has put a heavy burden on first responders across the region, inhibiting their ability to train for the event.

Battelle said public safety also is a concern, and organizers wanted to make sure that all first responders are available for duty with the Ferguson situation still being fluid.

Tensions are high as the area awaits a grand jury decision on whether to indict Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson for the Aug. 9 shooting of Michael Brown. The grand jury decision is expected soon. The shooting set off almost three months of protests accusing police of excessive force and racial profiling.

"Our focus is honoring the lives of those who have died in the line of duty and providing support to their families," Battelle told KTVI. "To hold the event at this time could serve as a distraction and a disservice to those fallen heroes and their families who deserve our full attention and support."

Battelle said he hopes the event will take place after the new year, then return to the night before Thanksgiving next year.

In other news, a group of about 20 Ferguson protesters shifted their focus to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch building. Protesters are upset with what they perceive as a pro-police slant from the city's only major daily newspaper.

Protesters were particularly upset about a September article quoting a forensic pathologist who stated that the autopsy on Brown showed that Brown was reaching for Wilson's gun when he was shot. The pathologist later said her comments were taken out of context.

The Post-Dispatch published an editor's note stating that the pathologist had sought to qualify her comments after they were published. The protesters want a full retraction of the article.

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