August 2014 Current Events: U.S. News
Here are the key events in United States news for the month of August 2014.
Police Shooting of Teenager Sparks Outrage (Aug. 9): A police officer shoots and kills Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old teenager in Ferguson, Mo. Details of the shooting are under dispute. Police say that Brown is shot during a fight with the officer. However, a friend who was with Brown at the time says that the officer shot Brown when Brown refused to move from the middle of the street to the sidewalk and that Brown's hands were over his head at the moment of the shooting. (Aug. 10): After a candlelight vigil for Brown, protesters fill the streets near the shooting. Police officers arrived on the scene with riot gear, including rifles and shields. The protest turns violent and images from cellphones go viral on social media, including several accounts of looting in Ferguson. (Aug. 11): The F.B.I. begins a civil rights investigation in the shooting of Brown while protests continue in Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis. (Aug. 12): The Ferguson police chief, Thomas Jackson, announces that the name of the police officer involved in the shooting will not be released, citing concerns for the officer's safety. The refusal to reveal the name of the officer along with the selective information released about the shooting fuels another day and night of protests. Police use tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the protestors. (Aug. 14): While vacationing on Martha's Vineyard, President Obama holds a press conference and criticizes Ferguson law enforcement for using "excessive force" during the protests. At his press conference, Obama asks Attorney General Eric Holder to "do what is necessary to help determine exactly what happened and to see that justice is done." (Aug. 15): During a news conference, police identify the officer involved in the shooting as Darren Wilson, who has been with the Ferguson Police Department for four years and has no disciplinary charges. Wilson, a white officer, has been placed on leave and his location is unknown. However, tensions flare when, in a simultaneous press conference, police release information that Brown had been suspected of robbing a convenience store minutes before he was shot. Making matters worse, in a later news conference that afternoon, Police Chief Jackson says that Officer Wilson had not been aware that Brown was a suspect in the robbery at the time of the shooting.
Oscar Winner Robin Williams Commits Suicide (Aug. 11): Legendary American comedic actor Robin Williams is found dead. As the nation begins to mourn, details are released, including that Williams died by asphyxiation. Shrines honoring Williams pop up all over the country, including one in Boston on a bench in the Boston Common where a scene from Good Will Hunting was filmed.
State of Emergency Declared in Ferguson (Aug. 16): Citing looting, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon declares a state of emergency and imposes a curfew from midnight to five a.m. in Ferguson. The announcement is met with more protests and arguments that the curfew will only create more violence. At midnight, while many protestors disperse because of the curfew, small groups remain on the street and chant, "We are Mike Brown! We have the right to assemble peacefully!" Then, according to police, at least one bottle rocket is tossed by these small groups of protestors and shots are fired. One protestor is wounded, while seven others are arrested. (Aug. 17): The curfew is extended for another night and violence erupts again. Attorney General Holder announces that because of the "extraordinary circumstances" in the case, the Justice Department will conduct its own autopsy of Brown. Meanwhile, the private autopsy preliminary results are released and show that Brown had been shot at least six times, including twice in the head. After performing the private autopsy, Dr. Michael M. Baden says, "This information could have been released on day one." (Aug. 18): On Aug. 18, Gov. Nixon lifts the curfew and deploys the National Guard to assist the police. However, the presence of the National Guard fails to quell the unrest. That night at least two people are shot and dozens are arrested as bottles and Molotov cocktails are thrown from the crowd.
Missing Emails Turn Up in IRS Scandal (Aug. 22): U.S. Justice Department attorneys inform Judicial Watch, the group suing over the Internal Revenue Scandal (IRS), that Lois Lerner's emails are not missing after all. In fact, the Justice Department Attorneys say they have copies of every electronic message ever sent from Lerner, the IRS official who is a key figure in the IRS scandal involving conservative groups that sought tax-exempt status. The IRS had previously told Congress that all of Lerner's emails sent before 2011 had been lost in a hard drive crash. However, Justice Department attorneys say that the federal government keeps a back-up copy of every email, including those from IRS officials, too. The Judicial Watch is now asking for the release of those emails.