December 11, 2017
Thursday, November 27, 2014

Ferguson protests dwindle after two days of nationwide unrest

National Guard troops guard a strip mall in Ferguson, Missouri.
National Guard troops guard a strip mall in Ferguson, Missouri.
National Guard troops guard a strip mall in Ferguson, Missouri.

The streets of Ferguson, Missouri were mostly quiet overnight after two days of racially charged unrest sparked by a grand jury decision not to prosecute a white policeman who shot dead an unarmed black teenager.

On the eve of the Thanksgiving holiday, wintry weather kept many indoors across the state and other parts of the Midwest and the East Coast, though hundreds demonstrated against the killing in the California cities of Oakland, Los Angeles and San Diego.

Protesters also held up banners reading "Solidarity with Ferguson" and "Black Lives Matter" outside the US embassy in London. Among those who attended was the family of Mark Duggan, who was shot dead by police in north London in 2011, prompting Britain's worst civil unrest for decades.

The St. Louis suburb of Ferguson first erupted into protests after police officer Darren Wilson shot dead 18-year-old Michael Brown on August 9.

Wilson, who was placed on administrative leave, has said he acted in self-defense, out of fear for his life.

The town became an epicenter of national outrage again this week when a St. Louis County grand jury declined to indict Wilson on criminal charges on Monday.

Late yesterday, a few dozen protesters huddled in falling snow outside Ferguson's police headquarters, in sharp contrast to the scenes of arson, looting, sporadic gunfire and clashes with police on Monday and, to a lesser extent, Tuesday.

Businesses were boarded-up or burned along a mile-long stretch of West Florissant Avenue, which bore the brunt of Monday's lawlessness, and downtown streets between the police department and City Hall.

Demonstrations spread to a dozen or more major US cities by Tuesday, culminating in at least 400 arrests nationwide.

In and around Ferguson, around 2,200 National Guard troops called out by Missouri Governor Jay Nixon were backing up local police.

"The ramped-up presence and action of the Missouri National Guard has been helpful," Nixon said yesterday after facing criticism for not deploying enough troops in the immediate hours after the grand jury's decision was announced Monday evening.

The United States' first black president, Barack Obama, made cautious comments immediately after the Ferguson shooting, but on Monday said that deep distrust existed between police and minorities and that "communities of color aren't just making these problems up."

Sixty-three percent of Ferguson's 21,000 residents are African-American and 34 percent white, according to 2010 US Census data. Ferguson's mayor, James Knowles, is white, as are most of its city council members.

A 2013 state attorney general's report found more than 85 percent of motorists pulled over in the city were black, and the arrest rate for black people was twice that for white people.

The Justice Department has been investigating whether to bring federal civil rights charges against Wilson and the Ferguson police department.

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Tags:  Ferguson  protests  calm  Missouri  US  World  

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