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Live updates: Nation reacts, Ferguson erupts

November 26, 2014

(Jim Young/Reuters)

A grand jury in Missouri declined to indict Darren Wilson, the white Ferguson police officer whose fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager sparked days of turbulent protests and triggered a frank conversation about race and police interaction with African-Americans. Wilson, 28, shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown during an Aug. 9 confrontation in the St. Louis suburb. Monday night in Ferguson, following the grand jury’s decision, calm gave way to panic and anger.

  • Vincent Bzdek
  • ·

In an appearance on NBC’s Today show, Michael Brown’s mother, Lesley McSpadden, blamed Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon for the violence that broke out in Ferguson after the grand jury declined to return an indictment against the police officer who killed her son. When asked if her husband had incited the crowd Monday night, she said that it was a “higher power” — the governor — who should be held accountable, not her husband.

“They stirred the pot. They had everyone on edge, they had everyone in an uproar, and had the city on edge basically since Aug. 9.,”she said in her first public comments since the indictment came out.

McSpadden said Darren Wilson’s account of the shooting, as told in an ABC interview Tuesday, added “insult to injury.”

Appearing with McSpadden, Michael Brown Sr. called Wilson’s version of events “crazy.”

“For one, my son, he respected law enforcement,” Brown Sr. said. “Two, who in their right mind would rush or charge at a police officer that has his gun drawn? It sounds crazy.” 

The Today show’s Savannah Guthrie asked the parents what they thought of Wilson’s remark that Brown looked like a “demon” to him. The parents were too upset to answer, so family attorney Benjamin Crump did.

“When you have people of color be killed they try to demonize and play on the stereotypes, and they try to put the police officer who killed our children on a pedestal,”  Crump told Guthrie. “It’s just not right, and we have to fix this system.”

Crump said the family now plans on pursuing the case in federal and civil court.

They will also campaign for a law requiring police officers to wear body cameras across the country, something they hope will be known as The Michael Brown Law.

 

  • Justin Moyer
  • ·

A rally in support of Michael Brown will be held in London tonight at 7 p.m.

  • Justin Moyer
  • ·

Though protests in more than 100 cities in the United States were largely peaceful, things got ugly in Oakland, Calif., where fires were set and stores were looted.

A man leaves a looted T-Mobile store in Oakland, Calif., on Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014, a day after the announcement that a grand jury decided not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown. Protesters briefly shut down two major freeways, vandalized police cars and looted businesses in downtown Oakland, smashing windows at cell phone stores, car dealerships, restaurants and convenience stores on a second night of protests. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

A man leaves a looted T-Mobile store in Oakland, Calif., on Nov. 25, a day after the announcement that a grand jury decided not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown. Protesters briefly shut down two major freeways, vandalized police cars and looted businesses in downtown Oakland, smashing windows at cell phone stores, car dealerships, restaurants and convenience stores on a second night of protests. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

  • Justin Moyer
  • ·

From a St. Louis County Police Facebook post:

  • Justin Moyer
  • ·

Earlier reports of an FBI shooting in St. Louis County appear at this time unrelated to disturbances in Ferguson. The agents were reportedly serving an arrest warrant on a man who barricaded himself in a house. The man is a suspect in the shooting of a police officer yesterday. The man also allegedly killed his mother.

The condition of the two FBI agents was not known.

The FBI sent 100 agents to Ferguson ahead of the grand jury’s decision not to indict Darren Wilson, who shot Michael Brown on Aug. 9.

  • Justin Moyer
  • ·

Update: The reported shootings of two FBI agents appear at this time unrelated to the disturbances in Ferguson. The agents were reportedly serving an arrest warrant on a man who barricaded himself in a house.

Local news outlets are reporting two FBI agents were shot in St. Louis. Their condition has not been released.

The FBI sent 100 agents to Ferguson ahead of the grand jury’s decision not to indict Darren Wilson, who shot Michael Brown on Aug. 9.

  • Justin Moyer
  • ·

Before a press conference at about 1:30 a.m. Central time, police set up a display of objects, including bottles filled with urine, allegedly thrown by demonstrators during overnight protests in Ferguson, Mo.

Despite the display, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar and Capt. Ron Johnson of the Missouri State Highway Patrol said things were looking up. There were 44 arrests, including three assaults against police officers. Two guns were seized.

But Belmar said there were no major fires and no one was killed.

“I think generally it was a much better night,” Belmar said.

Belmar said “rioters” broke several windows at Ferguson’s city hall, where a Molotov cocktail was seized, and badly damaged a police car. He said city hall was the only place tear gas was deployed.

He also directed reporters’ attention to objects allegedly thrown at police: what he said were rocks, bottles, a “socket extension,” broken tent poles, pieces of asphalt and small bottles filled with liquid, including what he said appeared to be urine.

Belmar said it was difficult for police to do their jobs while under fire.

“When the officers are having those kind of events, it’s difficult for them to manage events as well as they can,” Belmar said. But: “It’s fair to say officers acted with discipline, and protesters were out there for right reason.”

Johnson agreed with Belmar.

“We did have a much better night,” he said. “We are committed to making sure we make our community safe. We did that.”

Johnson credited demonstrators for the relative lack of violence.

“A lot of protesters came out for peaceful protest and helped us out,” he said. However:  “Those stuck on violence embed themselves in peaceful protesters.”

Belmar agreed with reporters who pointed out the National Guard was more visible.

“They can fill in the gaps for us,” Belmar said, observing that police who have dealt with protests since August are “seasoned,” but can still benefit from the Guard in a “support role.”

Belmar and Johnson said authorities could not predict the scale of rioting this week. Belmar said such violence was “seldom seen in this country.”

“If you look through recent history of our country, we have not seen anything like this,” Johnson said, apparently defining “recent” to exclude the much larger Los Angeles riots of 1992. “We didn’t think it was going to be a cakewalk, but we didn’t think it was going to be like this.”

Johnson said police will “continue to get better” at controlling the situation in Ferguson, and encouraged those planning to visit for the holiday not to change their plan.

“This is Thanksgiving,” he said. “Come here. Enjoy Thanksgiving with your family.”

He pointed out that Ferguson’s Thanksgiving parade is still on.

  • Justin Moyer
  • ·

Here’s a summary of overnight protests around the country from the Associated Press:

People protesting the Ferguson, Missouri, grand jury decision took to the streets in cities across the U.S. for a second day Tuesday, showing that the racially charged case has inflamed tensions thousands of miles from the predominantly black St. Louis suburb.

For many, the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown by Officer Darren Wilson recalled other troubling encounters with law enforcement. The refrain “hands up, don’t shoot” became a rallying cry over police killings nationwide.

A look at some of Tuesday’s demonstrations:

NEW YORK

Thousands of people marched for a second night in Manhattan, gathering in Union Square before splitting into several smaller groups, chanting “No justice, No peace.” Some held signs saying “Jail killer cops” and “Justice for Mike Brown.”

One group marched uptown to Times Square, meandering between lanes of traffic as police followed. The protesters, who seemed to grow in number as the night wore on, disrupted traffic on the FDR Drive and congregated at the entrances to the Williamsburg and Manhattan Bridges and the Queens Midtown Tunnel.

Commissioner William Bratton said police were giving protesters “breathing room.”

“As long as they remain nonviolent, and as long as they don’t engage in issues that cause fear or create vandalism, we will work with them to allow them to demonstrate,” he said.

CALIFORNIA

Protesters flooded the U.S. 101 freeway Tuesday night, carrying barricades that they laid across lanes and bringing traffic to a halt.

Within a few minutes Highway Patrol and LAPD officers chased the few dozen protesters off the freeway and corralled them on an overpass, where one of the barricades was thrown on to the freeway below. There were no immediate reports of any arrests.

The protesters had broken away from a larger, primarily peaceful group of hundreds who had marched for miles through city streets since mid-afternoon, converging on police headquarters.

In Oakland, a group of protesters is vandalizing police cars and businesses in downtown Oakland, smashing windows at car dealerships, restaurants, and convenience stores on a second night of protests.

The crowd briefly shut down two major freeways, and set several trash bins on fire across a major street before police in riot helmets forced them to disperse.

MINNEAPOLIS

A rally in Minneapolis turned scary when a car struck a protester and then burst through a pack of others who surrounded it. A woman suffered minor injuries. Several hundred people had gathered Tuesday afternoon near the 3rd Precinct police outpost to show solidarity with Brown. The driver called police soon after to report the incident, and police spokesman John Elder said the incident was under investigation.

CLEVELAND

Several hundred people marched down a freeway ramp to block rush-hour traffic while protesting the Missouri developments and Saturday’s fatal shooting by an officer of 12-year-old Tamir Rice of Cleveland, who had a pellet gun that looked like a real firearm.

“The system wasn’t made to protect us,” said one of the protesters, 17-year-old Naesha Pierce. “To get justice, the people themselves have to be justice.”

ST. LOUIS

Protesters disrupted downtown traffic for several hours by blocking major intersections, an interstate highway and a Mississippi River bridge connecting the city to Illinois.
Riot police arrested several demonstrators who sat in the middle of Interstate 44 near the Edward Jones Dome. They used pepper spray to disperse the crowd.
Demonstrators also swarmed the steps of the federal courthouse chanting, “You didn’t indict! We shall fight!”

ELSEWHERE

Several hundred people from historically black schools Morehouse College and Clark Atlanta University in Georgia held peaceful demonstrations. But as the night wore on, some groups split off and tried to block a freeway, and police said some windows were broken.

Police said 21 people were arrested, mostly for failure to disperse when asked, but one person faces a weapons charge.

In Portland, Oregon, a rally drew about 1,000 people who listened to speeches then marched through downtown. A splinter group of about 300 people kept going, marching across a Willamette River bridge. Bus and light rail traffic was disrupted, and police used pepper spray and made several arrests.

  • Justin Moyer
  • ·

St. Louis County Police tweeted photos of bottles apparently filled with urine thrown at officers. The department also reported additional looting.

  • Justin Moyer
  • ·

Video of the police car lit on fire in Ferguson late Tuesday, via Reuters:

  • Justin Moyer
  • ·

Some taking to the street — and to social media  — to protest the grand jury decision not to indict Michael Brown are taking up a new rallying cry two days before the biggest shopping day of the year: #BoycottBlackFriday.

Washington talk-show host Bill Rohland offered a different strategy:

  • Justin Moyer
  • ·

From The Washington Post’s Chico Harlan:

As midnight approached in Ferguson on Tuesday, police made a handful of arrests and had dealt only with a few small flashpoints. A protester threw a flaming projectile that landed near a row of advancing officers. Later, a small group tried to overturn an unoccupied patrol car in front of city hall, eventually lighting it on fire.

Still, officers largely managed to contain the gathering. When trouble arose, police moved in more quickly than they had on Monday. The crowd numbered in the low hundreds, compared with more than 1,000 on Monday.

  • Justin Moyer
  • ·

Local media in San Francisco are reporting fires have been set at a protest in Oakland, Calif.

  • Justin Moyer
  • ·

Local media in Los Angeles are reporting that LAPD officers were hit with frozen water bottles and traffic cones thrown by demonstrators.

  • Justin Moyer
  • ·

Multiple news outlets report that Interstate 580 in Oakland, Calif., has been shut down by protesters. Here’s the San Francisco Chronicle:

  • Nick Kirkpatrick
  • ·

Protesters took to the streets in D.C., gathering on North Capitol Street, at the National Portrait Gallery and at a Wal-Mart on Georgia Avenue.

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 25: Protesters storm a Walmart store following a Missouri grand jury's decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson in Washington November 25, 2014. (Photo by J. Lawler Duggan/For The Washington Post)

Protesters storm a Wal-Mart department store. (J. Lawler Duggan/For The Washington Post)

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 25: Protesters storm a Walmart store following a Missouri grand jury's decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson in Washington November 25, 2014. (Photo by J. Lawler Duggan/For The Washington Post)

(J. Lawler Duggan/For The Washington Post)

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 25: Protesters march through downtown Washington, DC following a Missouri grand jury's decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson in Washington November 25, 2014. (Photo by J. Lawler Duggan/For The Washington Post)

Protesters march through downtown Washington. (J. Lawler Duggan/For The Washington Post)

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 25: Protesters burn a US flag as they march through downtown Washington, DC following a Missouri grand jury's decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson in Washington November 25, 2014. (Photo by J. Lawler Duggan/For The Washington Post)

( J. Lawler Duggan/For The Washington Post)

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 25: Protesters march through downtown Washington, DC following a Missouri grand jury's decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson in Washington November 25, 2014. (Photo by J. Lawler Duggan/For The Washington Post)

(J. Lawler Duggan/For The Washington Post)

Protestors hold up their hands and chant, "Hands up, don't shoot," on the steps on the National Portrait Gallery, in the Chinatown area of Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014. A grand jury in Ferguson, Mo., on Monday, Nov. 24, 2014, declined to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown, an unarmed African-American man. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Protesters hold up their hands and chant “Hands up, don’t shoot” on the steps on the National Portrait Gallery. (Alex Brandon/AP)

A sign that reads "Stop Killing Us" is held high as protesters gather in Mount Vernon Square, in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014. A grand jury in Ferguson, Mo., on Monday, Nov. 24, 2014, declined to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown, an unarmed African-American man. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

A sign that reads “Stop Killing Us” is held high as protesters gather in Mount Vernon Square. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)

  • Robert Samuels
  • ·

  • Justin Moyer
  • ·

CNN reported that protesters in Dallas had shut down Interstate 35.

The Dallas Morning News reported some arrests were made:

  • Wesley Lowery
  • ·

Just before 10 p.m. Central time, much of the crowd departed Ferguson PD, marching several blocks down the road to city hall.

“Don’t go that way,” urged a clergy member to reporters attempting to follow.

There, a county police cruiser was briefly set on fire, promoting dozens of police vehicles to respond. Upon their arrival, officers had rocks and other objects thrown at them — promoting them to deploy several rounds of tear gas.

Much of the crowd quickly scattered, but others pressed forward throwing more objects at officers. By 10:30 p.m., most of the crowd had been cleared.

  • Justin Moyer
  • ·

The Washington Post’s Chico Harlan filed this Ferguson update at around 11:30 p.m. Eastern time:

Hours after Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon decided to triple the National Guard presence in a still-smoldering St. Louis suburb, protesters again stood off with police late Tuesday on the streets of Ferguson, though there was no sign of the mass-scale arson and rioting that had caused so much destruction and soul-searching a night earlier.

At 10:22 p.m. local time, police in Ferguson tried to clear protesters from the streets.

Those who stay “will be subject to arrest,” police said through a bullhorn. ” … It is time to go.”

But as the rage lowered from a boil to a simmer in Ferguson, it also spread out across the country. Large and mostly young crowds marched in at least a dozen major U.S. cities, snarling traffic in Los Angeles and shutting down streets in Boston. In Manhattan, protestors moved through Times Square with their hands up — a silent rally cry for Michael Brown, the teenager who was shot in August by police officer Darren Wilson.

The decision by a grand jury to not indict Wilson had sparked several dozen fires and more than 60 arrests in St. Louis on Monday — a night of “lawlessness” that Nixon said could not repeat.

By 10 p.m. in Ferguson on Tuesday, there had been a handful of arrests made. After several hours of relative peace, a group tried to overturn an unoccupied patrol car in front of city hall, eventually lighting it on fire. Separately, a protestor threw a flaming projectile that landed near a row of advancing officers. When trouble did arise, officers moved in more quickly than they did on Monday.

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