FERGUSON, Mo.—The streets of Ferguson were crowded but relatively calm Tuesday evening, with a heavier police presence tamping down violence and looting that had rocked the region the night before.
On the second night after a grand jury infuriated many around St. Louis and the world by declining to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the August shooting death of teenager Michael Brown, there were a few arrests and some minor confrontations. One including the toppling and torching of a Ferguson police car in front of City Hall.
But the protests were nothing like Monday night, when fires and looting raged in Ferguson and flared in other spots in the region. The calmer night was apparently due in large part to increased numbers of police from various agencies, including a beefed-up contingent of 2,200 Missouri National Guard troops.
The sobering tally from late Monday and early Tuesday included at least 21 fires set across an area of about four square miles; 61 people arrested; 10 police cars damaged or destroyed; and three officers injured.
More than two dozen people were charged with burglary, stealing and other crimes tied to looting and other unrest in Ferguson Monday night and Tuesday morning.
Those charged include Deangelas Lee, 21, of Black Jack, who was accused of second-degree assault on a law-enforcement officer for speeding his car at a police officer on New Halls Ferry Road. The officer fired a “less-lethal” projectile from his shotgun, hitting the vehicle. Lee was later stopped at a checkpoint and arrested. A passenger in the car suffered an eye injury, though it was not clear how she was hurt. Her condition was not known.
A University City man, Robert C. Kalbfell, 27, was accused of torching a St. Louis County police car at South Florissant Road and Oliver Avenue.
Others were charged with looting from stores or burglary after they were caught inside closed stores. Some were accused of stealing drugs from a pharmacy, and electronics, cigarettes, Legos and underwear from other stores.
Authorities spent Tuesday vowing that Monday night’s mayhem wouldn’t be repeated.
“Last night, criminals intent on lawlessness and destruction terrorized this community, burning buildings, firing gunshots, vandalizing storefronts, and looting family businesses, many for the second time,” a visibly angry Gov. Jay Nixon said at a news conference outlining an increase in Guard troops to the area.
“I am deeply saddened for the people of Ferguson who woke up this morning to see parts of their community in ruins,” said Nixon. He warned that “the violence we saw in the areas of Ferguson last night cannot be repeated.”
By nightfall, the effects of that beefed-up police presence was evident. Police forces completely closed the stretch of West Florissant Road from Ferguson Avenue and Chambers Road, where the scent of burning rubble from the night before still hung in the air. No vehicles or foot traffic were allowed in the area, except pedestrians who could prove they were residents. Nearby residents were expected to get around the area via back roads.
Shortly after 7 p.m., a white, unmarked school bus pulled up on the parking lot in front of the damaged Ferguson Market and Liquor store on West Florissant and parked. The doors swung open, and out streamed a couple dozen National Guard troops wearing camouflage uniforms and helmets and bearing black automatic rifles.
Almost immediately, a protester, who declined to be named, rushed up to one of the young troopers, the video camera on his smart phone recording the encounter. The protester sneered, “So this is America, huh?” A St. Louis County police officer asked the man to leave the parking lot.
The troops began taking up positions around buildings that had not been burned the night before. Meanwhile, a woman from St. Louis walked up to several of the troops and posed for a photograph taken by a friend before she, too, was asked to leave.
The woman, Anna Hexter, 43, said she had come to Ferguson to walk “prayerfully” through the area. “I am surprised to see these guys here now,” Hexter said. “They should have been here last night when the bullets were flying. After all, aren’t they trained for situations like that, you know, wartime stuff?”
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Another visitor to West Florissant on Tuesday night, Zach Wilson, 24, of Florissant, said he had come to West Florissant because he wanted to “be a part of history.”
“This goes beyond St. Louis,” Wilson said. “The whole world is watching this.”
By 8 p.m., about 50 people had gathered across the street from the Ferguson police station to chant and protest. One of them, Tyisha Acoff, 33, a certified nurse’s assistant from Jennings, called on the crowd to burn down the police department.
“Burn it down!” she screamed.
“Why? Because they aren’t doing nothing,” she explained to a reporter. “Burn it down, burn it down, they aren’t helping us.” As the crowd swelled to more than 100, police arrested a few protesters who refused to clear the street.
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Around 8 p.m., St. Louis Metropolitan Police briefly closed the intersection of North Kingshighway and Natural Bridge Avenue because of the presence of about 50 to 75 protesters. The group remained peaceful.
Protesters marched down Kingshighway to Lindell near Forest Park and the Chase Park Plaza. Security there sealed the entrances. Police blocked off intersections nearby.
Other demonstrators took to the streets in the Shaw neighborhood of south St. Louis, where some businesses were vandalized Monday night.
The protesters stood near the VonDerrit Myers Jr. memorial. Myers was shot by a St. Louis police officer last month.
Police at the intersection told protesters that standing in the street was not a “peaceful protest.” Alderman Steve Conway was at the scene, helping direct traffic.
Tuesday morning, about 40 people led by members of Metropolitan Congregations United gathered for prayer at Shaw Park in Clayton, then marched three blocks to the county government complex. By Meramec Avenue and Forsyth Boulevard, the group had grown to about 140 marchers who paraded in a circle in the intersection. Another 60 marchers joined them from the south.
They chanted, “This is what theology looks like,” and the more common, “No justice, no peace.” Police routed traffic around the protest.
Just after 8:30 a.m., marchers stopped near the St. Louis County Justice Center, where the grand jury had met, and laid down briefly in protest.
Many businesses remained closed in Clayton, including many in the Centene Plaza building.
At midday, about 350 protesters, including some from the Clayton event, gathered at Kiener Plaza downtown.
Marchers headed toward Laclede’s Landing, where many of them suddenly sprinted up an exit ramp to Interstate 44 (formerly Interstate 70) next to the Edwards Jones dome. That act forced police to block traffic on the elevated highway from shortly after 2 p.m. to about 2:30 p.m., after the protesters walked back down the ramp, trailed by a line of police officers with night sticks.
At the Thomas F. Eagleton U.S. Courthouse earlier, protesters pushed through a line of metal barriers on the sidewalk and marched up the wide staircase to another barrier line near the main entrance, coming face to face with line of federal officers standing on the other side of the barrier. Some protesters chanted, “Hey hey, ho ho, racist cops have got to go!”
Both marches included 41/2 minutes of silence to symbolize the more than four hours that Michael Brown’s body lay on Canfield Drive on Aug. 9.
Four demonstrators in the two marches were arrested on suspicion of failure to disperse.
(Jacob Barker, Tim Barker, Lisa Brown, Nancy Cambria, Joel Currier, Valerie Schremp Hahn, Paul Hampel, Lilly Fowler, Ken Leiser, Tim O’Neil, Michael D. Sorkin and Joe Holleman of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.)
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