Protesters Return To Riot-Scarred Ferguson Streets
(AP) — Protesters returned to the riot-scarred streets of Ferguson on Tuesday, a day after crowds looted businesses and set fire to buildings in a night of rage against a grand jury’s decision not to indict the white police officer who killed Michael Brown.
But with hundreds of additional National Guard troops assisting police, the latest demonstrations had little of the chaos and destruction that erupted after Monday’s announcement. Most clashes were relatively minor, although a squad car was set on fire, and police released some tear gas.
Meanwhile, officer Darren Wilson broke his long public silence, insisting on national television that he could not have done anything differently in the confrontation with Brown.
In the aftermath of Monday’s violence, Missouri governor Jay Nixon sent a large contingent of extra National Guard troops, ordering the initial force of 700 to be increased to 2,200 in hopes that their presence would help local law enforcement keep order in the St. Louis suburb.
“Lives and property must be protected,” Nixon said. “This community deserves to have peace.”
The Guard presence was hard to miss. Guard units protected the Ferguson Police Department and left crowd control, arrests and use of tear gas to local officers.
About 50 protesters converged on a barricade manned by 30 Guard members. The group chanted “Whose streets, our streets,” ”This is what democracy looks like” and “Hands up don’t shoot,” a slogan that has become a rallying cry in protests over police killings.
Outside police headquarters in Ferguson, one woman was taken into custody after protesters threw what appeared to be smoke bombs, flares and frozen water bottles at a line of officers. Several other protesters were arrested after defying police instructions to get out of the street or out of the way of police vehicles.
As the day drew to a close, some streets that had been overrun the previous night were deserted, except for the occasional police cruiser or National Guard vehicle. Guard crews stood watch in empty parking lots.
Other large demonstrations were held across the country for a second day. Hundreds of Seattle high school students walked out of classes, and several hundred people marched down a Cleveland freeway ramp to block rush-hour traffic.
During an interview with ABC News, Wilson said he has a clean conscience because “I know I did my job right.”
Wilson, 28, had been with the Ferguson police force for less than three years before the Aug. 9 shooting. He told ABC Brown’s shooting marked the first time he had fired his gun on the job.
Attorneys for the Brown family vowed to push for federal charges against Wilson and said the grand jury process was rigged from the start to clear Wilson.
“We said from the very beginning that the decision of this grand jury was going to be the direct reflection of the presentation of the evidence by the prosecutor’s office,” attorney Anthony Gray said. He suggested the office of the county’s top prosecutor, Bob McCulloch, presented some testimony to discredit the process, including from witnesses who did not see the shooting.