A Calmer Night In Ferguson, But Michael Brown's Hometown Remains In A State Of Emergency
More protests went on through the night in Ferguson, Missouri, the small St. Louis suburb that erupted with protests and riots this time last year, following the death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown. According to The New York Times, the St. Louis County Police Department arrested at least 23 protesters early Tuesday morning in Ferguson as civil unrest brewed. Although the demonstrations were much more calm than they were on Sunday night, when police officers reportedly exchanged gunfire with a man in the crowd, the arrests signal more trouble for the impoverished suburb, which is still struggling to rebound one year later.
The St. Louis County Police Department tweeted early Tuesday morning that rocks and water bottles were being thrown at police officers standing guard at West Florissant Avenue, one of the main Ferguson thoroughfares. The officers were then advised to wear their riot gear, including helmets.
"Safety, our top priority, is now compromised," the St. Louis County PD tweeted. "This is no longer a peaceful protest. Participants are now unlawfully assembled."
"Those who do not comply are subject to arrest," the police department added via Twitter. Authorities said they did not use tear gas on any demonstrators, though pepper spray was used at some point.
Earlier Monday evening, before police officers broke out their riot gear and pepper spray, St. Louis County declared a state of emergency in Ferguson. A similar state of emergency was declared in August 2014, causing Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon to deploy the National Guard.
“The recent acts of violence will not be tolerated in a community that has worked so tirelessly over the last year to rebuild and become stronger,” St. Louis County executive Steve Stenger said in a statement released Monday. "Chief Belmar shall exercise all powers and duties necessary to preserve order, prevent crimes, and protect the life and property of our citizens."
Nixon posted photos on his official Twitter account Monday evening showing meetings between St. Louis County Police Chief Belmar and members of the Missouri State Highway Patrol. Those two police departments were brought to Ferguson to act as additional peacekeepers in 2014, when peaceful protests turned violent.
Despite the state of emergency and arrests, Michael Brown's hometown was much more at ease Monday night into early Tuesday morning. Authorities said that no businesses were looted or vandalized overnight, while fires were nowhere to be found. The majority of demonstrators remained peaceful until night fell.
There were, however, numerous arrests made earlier in the day on Monday. CNN reports that authorities arrested nearly 60 people during a demonstration at the Thomas F. Eagleton United States Courthouse in downtown St. Louis. The demonstration, which began at a church, was to commemorate the one-year anniversary of Brown's death at the hands of Police Officer Darren Wilson, who is white. Wilson was cleared of any wrongdoing when a St. Louis County grand jury decided not to bring any criminal charges against him last November, a decision that sparked a new round of protests and violent unrest in Ferguson.