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Amid Ferguson Unrest, Michael Brown’s Family Plans Public Memorial

By Molly Hennessy-Fiske and Tina Susman, Los Angeles Times

FERGUSON, Mo. — After peaceful protests in Ferguson devolved into the ninth night of unrest, with at least 31 arrests and two shootings, residents gathered to clean up debris from embattled West Florissant Avenue Tuesday morning and the parents of Michael Brown said they are planning a public memorial for their son on Monday.

The clashes led to the arrests of people from as far away as California and New York, underscoring what Missouri State Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson said is a small minority of outsiders stirring trouble after the Aug. 9 shooting of Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old, by a white officer.

Officers came under “heavy gunfire” overnight, he said, requiring the use of tear gas to disperse unruly crowds. He emphasized that police did not fire a single bullet.

A curfew that had been in effect Saturday and Sunday nights was lifted, but officials had the authority to close streets and required that protesters stay in motion — not stop walking or congregate.

Schools remained closed in Ferguson as officials feared for the safety of children who would be walking to and from campuses.

Brown’s parents, Michael Brown and Lesley McSpadden, said Tuesday morning that the prosecution of the officer who shot their unarmed son is the only way to bring peace to the streets of Ferguson.

“Justice will bring peace,” McSpadden told the “Today” show’s Matt Lauer.

“We need to keep the focus on Michael Brown Jr.,” Brown’s father said.

The family expects Michael Brown’s body to be released in the next 48 hours and planning is underway for a public memorial service for Brown, said one of their attorneys, Anthony Gray.

Gray said the couple are devastated by the nightly clashes, which they feel, “divert all of the attention from honoring their child and allowing him to begin the process to rest in peace. That’s not how they want him to be remembered. They do not want that to be their son’s legacy.”

Gray, who was out with protesters on West Florissant late Monday, did not fault police, calling their approach “experimental.” He praised Johnson, chosen by the governor to take over control of the effort from local police last week.

“If we maintained the course we were on before Ron got involved, it would probably be 10 times worse than it is now. Nobody is itching to go back to the security measures they deployed in the beginning,” Gray said, referring to Ferguson police.

Johnson made an effort late Monday to forestall violence, Gray said, holding troopers back from engaging with the crowd of protesters.

“I don’t know if it will work or not. I’m just going to trust that they’re doing what they can to balance the interests that are at work,” Gray said. “What Ron Johnson brought to the street, if he had more of that in the people around him, the situation would be totally different.”

Johnson has called on protesters to stay inside after dark, and while Gray wasn’t sure if that was the solution to the violence, he said the dynamic needs to change.

“Everybody needs to take a break,” Gray said. “We’ve got a big memorial service that needs to be planned,” he said.

He said the family was encouraged that President Barack Obama is sending U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. to Ferguson Wednesday.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon had deployed National Guard troops for the first time overnight Monday to assist the state Highway Patrol and St. Louis County police, and a spokesman said the deployment was expected to continue Tuesday.

But he stressed that guard troops came to Ferguson in a supporting role — not to man the front lines with police who faced off with protesters in riot gear Monday night, lobbing tear gas, and rescuing two gunshot victims.

“They had a limited support roll there at the command center, staying there to secure the command center,” spokesman Scott Holste said of the guard.

The deployment came after police complained the night before that protesters had approached the command center, throwing Molotov cocktails and glass bottles, leading police to respond with tear gas and smoke canisters.

During the worst of the clashes, protesters demanded to see Johnson, who had walked the streets with protesters hours earlier pleading for calm.

“Ron Johnson, where are you?” a protester shouted.

Johnson appeared hours later at a command center briefing, where he justified the use of force, saying officers were at risk. He displayed a Molotov cocktail and two guns seized during the melee, which he said included two fires set by vandals at a home and business, and urged legitimate protesters to stay home after dark Tuesday.

He did not know the conditions of the two gunshot victims and said officers used an armored vehicle to rescue one of them.

“All of these criminals at night that are masking themselves and hiding themselves behind peace, let them come at night so we can identify them, so we can take them away from our community and put them away and make our streets clear,” he said.

“This was not an act of protesters. This was an act of violent criminals,” he said.

AFP Photo/Scott Olson

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Philadelphia Inquirer Owner Lewis Katz Is One Of Seven Killed In Private Jet Crash

By Molly Hennessy-Fiske and Tina Susman, Los Angeles Times

BEDFORD, Mass. — Media owner Lewis Katz and six othe people died when a private jet veered into a marshy area and burst into flames during takeoff, investigators said Sunday as they began investigating the crash.

The pilot had reported no trouble, but the plane apparently never got off the ground, a National Transportation Safety Board inspector said.

Katz’s death Saturday night heaped new turmoil on the Philadelphia Inquirer, which last week changed hands for the fifth time since 2006 after Katz and partner H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest emerged from a private auction as sole owners of the Inquirer, the Philadelphia Daily News, and Philly.com. The pair paid $88 million for the properties, ending at least for now a feud with rivals over the news organizations’ coverage.

Although Katz’s death was not expected to interrupt the sale, it was the latest in a string of upheavals for a news group whose flagship — the Inquirer — is one of the oldest and most-decorated newspapers in the country.

“We’ve lost a great friend,” Inquirer editor Bill Marimow said.

The ill-fated Gulfstream IV carried two pilots, a flight attendant and four passengers, including Katz.

A huge explosion shook residents living near Hanscom Field, about 20 miles northwest of Boston, about 9:40 p.m.

Michelle and Kevin Thompson, whose home is near the edge of the airfield, heard the crash.

Although the crash site was about 200 yards from their home, Michelle Thompson said the explosion was so loud that she thought something had happened in their yard. “It sounded that close,” she said. “All you could see was this big black cloud.”

At a news briefing, NTSB senior inspector Luke Schiada said an employee at Hanscom who watched the jet try to take off never saw it become airborne.

“He did not see the aircraft break ground,” Schiada said, meaning the wheels never left the pavement.

Schiada described a terrifying chain of events as the jet left the paved section of the runway, rolled onto grass, hit an antenna and a fence, and crashed into a watery gully. Debris was strewn about 2,000 feet, he said.

The pilots had “no abnormal communications” with the airport tower beforehand, Schiada said. “No verbal alert.”

Investigators hoped to recover the plane’s cockpit voice recorder and black box. All of the victims were found inside the jet.

Word quickly spread that they included Katz, who used to be principal owner of the NBA’s New Jersey Nets — now the Brooklyn Nets — and the NHL’s New Jersey Devils. He also was a shareholder of the Nets, the New York Yankees, and the YES Network.

In 2012, Katz, Lenfest and three others bought the Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com. They split into two factions, with Katz and Lenfest feuding with the three co-owners headed by George Norcross III, an insurance executive and New Jersey Democratic Party fundraiser.

Last fall, Katz accused Norcross of trying to take control of the newsroom by ordering the firing of Marimow, sparking a court battle that brought the feud into the open.

A judge ruled that Marimow could keep his job and ordered the sale of the news properties, which led to last week’s auction.

“We both know that this public conflagration wasn’t good for anybody,” Katz said after he and Lenfest emerged as the co-owners.

Katz and Lenfest were expected to focus more resources on bolstering the Inquirer’s in-depth and investigative reporting.

“Hopefully, it’ll get fatter,” Katz said of the newspaper, which like others has struggled to maintain subscribers and circulation in the face of online competition and declining ad revenue.

Officials did not identify the other passengers, but several media outlets reported that they included Anne Leeks, a retired schoolteacher from Longport, N.J., who had attended an education-related function with Katz in Boston over the weekend.

Philly.com reported that another passenger was Marcella Dalsey, executive director of the Drew A. Katz Foundation, which is named after Lewis Katz’s son, and the co-president of a charter school that she and Drew Katz founded in Camden, N.J.

Also aboard was Susan K. Asbell, of Camden, N.J., one of the leaders of the Boys & Girls Club of Camden County, Philly.com reported.

Hanscom Field remained closed late Sunday.

People living near the small airport, which is surrounded by residential neighborhoods, said they always feared a crash, but they assumed it would involve one of the helicopters using the military side of the airport.

Still, Kevin Thompson said the airport had small planes coming and going throughout the day and night.

“It can be like rush hour out there,” he said.

David Maialetti/Philadelphia Daily News/MCT