Streets Of Ferguson Smolder After Grand Jury Decides Not To Indict Officer
By Holly Yan, Greg Botelho and Moni Basu
Ferguson, Missouri (CNN) — More than a dozen buildings charred, set ablaze in a wave of fury. Stores — many owned by locals — looted, with shattered glass covering the asphalt outside. Shell casings on the ground, having been fired by unknown shooters.
Welcome to Ferguson, Missouri.
This is what Tuesday looked like in Ferguson, hours after an eruption of rage over a grand jury’s decision not to indict police Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown.
Many of those who took to the streets late Monday into Tuesday to vent what they say is police violence and racial injustice — rooted in the fact that Brown was black and Wilson is white — did so peacefully. Others did not, hurling bottles, batteries and rocks at police.
An entire row of businesses on West Florissant Avenue, a major thoroughfare, was engulfed in flames. Police cars and a row of vehicles at a nearby dealership were turned into fireballs. There were so many infernos that firefighters couldn’t get to every one.
There were also reports of gunshots: St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar heard at least 100 through the night, though Missouri State Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson insisted no bullets were fired by police. CNN’s Sara Sidner was struck in the head with a bottle.
“What we saw tonight was much worse than what we saw any night in August,” the St. Louis County police said on Facebook, referring to the days immediately after Brown’s death. “Bricks were thrown at police officers, two St. Louis County police cars were set on fire and police seized an automatic weapon.”
Authorities responded with round after round of tear gas, as well as shooting bean bags into the crowds.
Six people were treated and released with minor injuries between 10 p.m. Monday and 4 a.m. Tuesday at Christian Hospital in St. Louis, hospital spokesman Bret Berigan said. There were no known serious injuries — either to citizens or police officers — according to Belmar.
Police in Ferguson ended up making at least 61 arrests on charges ranging from unlawful assembly to burglary to unlawful possession of a firearm to arson.
By mid-Tuesday morning, the plazas were empty. Even the scene outside the police department — where Missouri National Guard members were to provide security, under orders of Gov. Jay Nixon — was calm.
But no one was under the belief that the tensions, or the threats of more unrest, were gone.