- Associated Press - Thursday, April 30, 2015

ST. LOUIS (AP) - Two St. Louis-area mothers whose sons were fatally shot by police officers say unrest in places like Ferguson and Baltimore won’t stop until police work with, instead of against, the black community.

Toni Taylor and Alice Willis spoke Thursday to show support for Baltimore demonstrators and call for communities to give blacks more input into police operations. The news conference was at the corner near the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, where Taylor’s son, Cary Ball Jr., was shot by two St. Louis officers in April 2013. Willis’ son, Michael Willis, was fatally shot by a Jennings officer in September.

Ball, 25, fled from police pursuing him for a traffic violation, crashed a car near the dome and then ran. Two police officers shot him 21 times. A federal investigation requested by Police Chief Sam Dotson concluded that the two officers were justified in using deadly force.

Willis, 42, was fatally shot by St. Louis County officers on Sept. 17. Police said Willis was shot after pointing a rifle at the officers. He had allegedly been looking for his ex-girlfriend.

The St. Louis region has had several officer-involved shootings in the nearly nine months since 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was black and unarmed, was fatally shot by Ferguson officer Darren Wilson in August. A St. Louis County grand jury and the U.S. Justice Department declined to prosecute Wilson, who resigned in November. But the shooting spurred a national movement questioning police interaction with black communities.

Ferguson protesters have been back on the streets this week in support of demonstrators in Baltimore following the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, who died in police custody.

“Our black men are dying at an alarming rate and no one is helping us,” Taylor, 45, said. “No one is going to jail. No officers are being arrested or actually charged.”

Willis said her son “did not deserve to be shot down like a dog.” She and other speakers called for cities to appoint commissions made up of black residents who will oversee police operations in predominantly black areas and cities.

“Little children shouldn’t have to be afraid of police officers,” Willis said.

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