Arrests Made in Ferguson Protest
FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) — Five people were arrested and two law enforcement officers were hurt in Ferguson after protests over the death of Michael Brown again intensified, authorities said Wednesday.
Missouri Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson said it wasn’t clear if a fire at a makeshift memorial for Brown led to the unrest Tuesday night in the St. Louis suburb. Reports of smashed windows and possible arson came hours after the memorial of teddy bears, signs and other items burned.
Ferguson was the site of sometimes violent protests and looting in the days after 18-year-old Brown, who was black, was shot by white Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9.
About 150 protesters gathered late Tuesday night. Johnson, whom Missouri’s governor put in charge of security in Ferguson, said one person was arrested for inciting a riot and four others for failure to disperse.
“Voices have been heard. They can continue to voice their opinion. It needs to be done in a safe manner,” Johnson said Wednesday.
The two injured officers were struck with rocks — one below the eye, the other on the elbow, Johnson said.
Windows were smashed at Beauty Town, a shop on West Florissant Avenue, and looters tried to steal a cash register, Johnson said. It was the third time in the six weeks since Brown was killed that the business has been targeted by looters, he said.
A custard shop on another street was damaged by fire. Johnson said gasoline had been poured on the grounds of the business.
Police also saw gunfire coming from the apartment complex near where Brown was killed, but no one was reported injured. But around 12:15 a.m. Wednesday, protesters began closing in on police, throwing rocks and bottles and threatening to shoot officers and “burn down the town,” Johnson said.
Officers forced the crowd to disperse.
Johnson said he wants to protect the rights of protesters, and he urged leaders of peaceful protests to step forward and speak out against violence. He said there were no plans to significantly escalate police presence, but that could change.
One of two memorials at the site where Brown was shot was destroyed in a fire early Tuesday. Police are investigating the cause of the blaze, but the fire renewed anger, especially among residents who live in the apartments nearby.
Several people at the scene Tuesday blamed police for not acting quickly enough to put out the fire. The memorial site was quickly filled back up, becoming a new, bigger memorial.
Resentment lingers among those who question why Wilson hasn’t been arrested and remains on paid administrative leave. A state grand jury is weighing whether he should face charges but a decision isn’t expected until mid-October.
The Justice Department is also investigating. Its civil rights division is hosting a meeting Wednesday night at a St. Louis County community college to provide information on its investigation of Ferguson police, and to meet with those who want to talk about their interaction with Ferguson officers.