Jesse Jackson joins protests as hundreds turn out in Ferguson

Last Updated Aug 16, 2014 12:15 AM EDT

FERGUSON, Mo. - The Rev. Jesse Jackson joined protesters marching in the streets of a St. Louis suburb Friday evening, hours after police released documents alleging a black teenager shot by an officer had taken part in a robbery shortly before he was killed.

Later, hundreds of people turned out for a sixth straight night to protest the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer.

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Protesters march down the middle of a street, Friday, Aug. 15, 2014, in front of a convenience store that was looted and burned following the shooting death of Michael Brown by police nearly a week ago in Ferguson, Mo.
Charlie Riedel, AP

Throngs of people lined the streets as cars drove past honking their horns. Many protesters held up signs with slogans such as "We want justice" and "No justice, no peace."

Nevertheless, the atmosphere seemed mostly calm, despite expressions of outrage earlier Friday when police announced that Brown was suspected of stealing a $48.99 box of cigars from a convenience store in a "strong-arm" robbery shortly before he was shot by a white police officer last Saturday.

Attorneys for Brown's family acknowledged that surveillance video from the convenience store appeared to show the teenager committing the robbery and shoving a clerk who tried to stop the theft. But the family said no robbery would justify police shooting a young man who, according to several witnesses, had his hands up.

The robbery allegations were made public the same day police finally identified the officer who shot Brown as Darren Wilson, 28, a white officer who has been on the force for six years. Ferguson police Chief Thomas Jackson had refused for days to identify the officer, saying he feared for the man's safety.

Many Ferguson residents said they believed that the police chief released surveillance video from the robbery in an attempt to destroy Brown's character. The young man's family said they were blindsided by the allegations.

Protester Vida Weekly, 51, walked through the crowd Friday night holding high a sign that read: "The police killed Michael Brown and now they are trying to kill his character."

U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay, a Democrat from St. Louis, took a bullhorn and spoke to people gathered outside a QuickTrip store. He denounced the police release of the surveillance video.

"They have attempted to taint the entire investigation," Clay said to a cheering crowd. "They are trying to influence a jury pool by the stunt they pulled today."

But despite the outrage many residents expressed earlier in the day, Friday evening's demonstrations were largely peaceful, and rain appeared to be keeping many people at home.

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The Rev. Jesse Jackson walks with protesters down the street Friday, Aug. 15, 2014, where Michael Brown was killed by police nearly a week ago in Ferguson, Mo.
Charlie Riedel, AP

Jesse Jackson linked arms with other protesters as they walked through the streets to the site where Brown was killed. The prominent civil rights activist bent over in front of a memorial cross and candles and let out a deep sigh.

He led the protesters in prayer. He urged the crowd to continue protesting but to avoid violence.

"You can reshape an iron while it's hot, but don't destroy yourself in the process. Don't self-destruct," he said, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Police and protesters clashed violently for four nights following the shooting but have remained peaceful since the state Highway Patrol took over security Thursday and pulled back armored vehicles.

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