Photo: Jeff Roberson/AP
(Reuters) – Police fired tear gas and protesters set businesses ablaze in Ferguson, Missouri, in racially charged unrest sparked by a grand jury’s decision not to indict a white police officer for fatally shooting an unarmed black teenager in August.
St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said early on Tuesday that at least a dozen buildings were torched and that he counted about 150 gunshots during a night of looting, vandalism, arson and clashes between demonstrators and police that resulted in at least 29 arrests.
Flights over the area were restricted and police struggled to contain protesters who took to the streets of Ferguson, a suburb of St Louis, smashing shop windows and torching cars and businesses despite President Barack Obama’s calls for restraint.
Although no serious injuries were reported, Belmar said the rioting on Monday night and early Tuesday morning was “much worse” than disturbances which erupted in the immediate aftermath of the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9.
Protests were also staged on Monday night in New York, Chicago, Seattle, Los Angeles, Oakland, California, and Washington, D.C., over a case that has highlighted long-standing racial tensions not just in predominantly black Ferguson but across the United States.
“Murderers, you’re nothing but murderers,” one woman shouted through a megaphone at officers clad in riot gear in Ferguson, after the grand jury decision was announced.
Angry crowds gathered around the police department in Ferguson after the grand jury found there was no probable cause to charge Wilson with any crime in the shooting.
St. Louis police reported heavy gunfire late on Monday in the area near where Brown was slain, but Belmar said officers did not fire a shot, even after they were pelted with rocks, bottles, batteries and other debris.
Police did fire volleys of tear gas and flash-bang canisters.