ST. LOUIS (CN) – No gunfire, but bottles, rocks and pepper spray flew and almost two dozen people were arrested on Ferguson’s tense streets Monday night, and St. Louis County declared a state of emergency.
Still it was relative peace, after three shooting incidents during Sunday night protests on the first anniversary of the Michael Brown shooting.
St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger declared the state of emergency effective immediately, putting St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar in charge of law enforcement at the Ferguson protests. The Ferguson Police Department had been in charge.
Stenger acted Monday after the Ferguson shootings left a black teenager hospitalized in critical condition. Police said they returned fire after 18-year-old Tyrone Harris shot up a police van, with officers inside.
On Monday more than 120 protesters were arrested in the region at “Day of Civil Disobedience” events.
Stenger said he would not rule out placing Ferguson on a curfew if violence returned Monday night.
“Chief Belmar shall exercise all powers and duties necessary to preserve order, prevent crimes, and protect the life and property of our citizens,” Stenger said in a statement.
Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III thanked first responders for their work amid the Sunday night chaos.
“We are deeply disappointed with the violence that took place last night,” Knowles said Monday. “This kind of behavior from those who want to cause disruption and destroy the progress from this past year will not be tolerated.”
Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager, was killed by former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, who is white, on Aug. 9, 2014. Brown’s death sparked months of often violent protests and gave birth to the Black Lives Matter movement, which has ramped up scrutiny nationwide on police use of force, particularly against young black men.
Also Monday, Cornel West was among 57 protesters arrested at the Federal Courthouse in St. Louis. West, a philosopher, author and political activist, was the first African American to receive a Ph.D. in philosophy from Princeton University.
U.S. Attorney Richard Callahan on Monday called the St. Louis protest peaceful and said the people arrested there would be processed and released.
Monday afternoon, protesters blocked rush hour traffic both ways on Interstate 70 on the Blanchette Bridge across the Missouri River, that connects St. Louis and St. Charles counties.
KTVI -TV helicopter footage showed lines of protesters joining hands to block the interstate. The Highway Patrol had cleared most of the protesters by 5:40 p.m.
Police said 64 protesters were arrested for refusing to move off the bridge.
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