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Saturday, June 22, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Police Car Torched, 44 Arrested as|Ferguson Streets Continue to Boil

FERGUSON, Mo. (CN) - Protesters in Ferguson torched a police car and broke businesses' windows Tuesday night, still angry over a grand jury's failure to indict a police officer for shooting Michael Brown.

The protests were peaceful until about 10 p.m., when a group of protesters marched from the Ferguson Police Department to City Hall. They smashed the windows of a police car parked in front of City Hall and tried to flip it over. Several protesters danced on top of the car and another one set it on fire. (See video of the melee on Courthouse News' Youtube channel.)

Police arrived and dispersed the crowd with tear gas. A protester claimed he was hit in the leg by a rubber bullet.

Police made 44 arrests, four of them felonies.

Windows were broken in City Hall and on businesses south of the police station.

Tuesday's protest were a marked improvement from the widespread violence that gripped the region Monday night after a St. Louis County grand jury declined to indict Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson for the Aug. 9 shooting of Michael Brown.

"I think generally it was a much better night," St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said. "We didn't have any arsons. We had some reports of some arsons, but they didn't materialize."

Belmar said a body was found behind the Canfield Apartments, where Brown was shot. He said police are treating it as a homicide and would not rule out that the death was related to the protests.

Protests sprouted throughout the St. Louis area, but the main hot spot was in front of the Ferguson Police Department, where several hundred protesters gathered.

The crowd had numerous chants, including "Move back, shoot back," "Who do we want? Darren Wilson! How do we want him? Dead!" and "Turn it up; don't turn it down; we're doing this for Michael Brown!"

Terrence, a 51-year-old man from nearby Berkeley, hoped the police got the message.

"They have no relationship with the public," Terrence told Courthouse News. "They don't look at the people they serve in their community as humans."

Terrence would have liked to see Monday's violence redirected.

"It's sad they burned up all those people's stuff," Terrence said. "They should have gone to Clayton and burned all that up."

Angela, a 39-year-old Ferguson resident, believes the National Guard is not being used properly.

"This is ridiculous," Angela said. "Instead of worrying about our protection, the National Guard and the police should have been protecting business. But no, they want to make sure our constitutional rights are violated."

Bishop Edwin Bass, of the Church of God in Christ, led a prayer team through hot spots.

"Our hope is that we're out here to connect with the young people and calm them down," Bass said. "We had a lot of success with that over the summer."

Bass said he and many other clergy weren't out on the streets when the violence broke out Monday.

"I think it's sad, but when you talk about when people lose hope, they act irrational," Bass said.

Tensions remained high in the entire region after a violent night of protests Monday that ended with at least 12 buildings and numerous vehicles burned to the ground.

At 3:20 p.m. Tuesday, U.S. Marshals chained up barricades in front of the Federal Courthouse. The St. Louis City Courthouse was closed to the public and the St. Louis County Courthouse announced that it would be closed for the rest of the week.

Gov. Jay Nixon pledged 2,200 National Guard soldiers for Ferguson on Tuesday, more than double the amount the previous night.

Nonviolent protests in Clayton and in downtown St. Louis took place throughout the day.

The Rev. Al. Sharpton arrived and blasted St. Louis Prosecutor Bob McCulloch's handling of the announcement of the grand jury's decision.

"I've never seen a prosecutor hold a press conference to discredit the victim ... where he went out of his way to go point by point in discrediting Michael Brown, who could not defend himself," Sharpton said at a press conference with Brown's family.

"Why the one that did the killing is not going to trial, but the victim is guilty of several things that no one has established? Then to go further than that, he takes his time to methodically discredit the witness, witnesses that will still be needed going forward in the ongoing federal proceedings."

East St. Louis, Ill., declared a mandatory curfew 6 p.m. Tuesday for all people 17 and under.

Ferguson Democratic Committeewoman Patricia Bynes took to Twitter, urging peaceful protesters to stay home Tuesday.

"I've said it b4 & I'll say it again, if u r a peaceful protester, please stay home tonight. There are people actively working against peace" Bynes tweeted.

As darkness fell, Belmar and Missouri Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson addressed the media to recap Monday's violence and to urge peace. Sounds of a Foot Locker being boarded were heard in the background during the press conference.

Belmar said there were 61 arrests Monday, 32 for felonies. Ten police cars were damaged, three officers were injured and there were 21 fires.

"Tonight we will do everything we can so that it does not repeat itself," Johnson said. "We have to make sure this stops."

Belmar said the widespread nature of the violence presented different challenges than law enforcement faced in August. He said the August violence was contained to seven or eight blocks. Monday night, the violence occurred in a 4-square-mile area.

"This has to turn into something good," Belmar said. "Otherwise, an 18-year-old man lost his life for nothing."

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