A Calmer Night In Ferguson, Mo., Amid Increased National Guard Presence

November 26, 2014

Updated at 6:22 a.m.

Police in Ferguson, Mo., made 44 arrests after another night of protests — these much calmer than the unrest that erupted after a grand jury declined Monday to indict officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown.

Many of the protesters say they are angry that Wilson, who is white, was not charged in the shooting of Brown, who was black.

Crystal Johnson was among those gathered in front of the Ferguson Police Department. She stood quietly a few feet from a line of police officers.

“It’s just a sad situation. Our justice system — it just fails us all the time,” she said. “So, if I didn’t get out here and march and protest, it could happen to my son.”

But, as NPR’s Cheryl Corley reports, the protests later turned ugly. Vandals damaged storefronts and a police car was set on fire.

Still, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said it was a better night.

“We saw some protesters out there that were really out there for the right reason,” he said. “Unfortunately, there seems to be a few people that are bent on preventing this from happening in the most ideal way that it possibly could.”

In some places, officers were pelted with rocks, bottles and other objects, Belmar said. He said 40 off the 44 arrests were for misdemeanors such as failure to disperse; four were felony arrests.

As we told you Tuesday, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon said the National Guard’s presence will be “ramped up significantly in Ferguson.” In all, 2,200 guardsmen were deployed in the region to keep the peace and protect property.

St. Louis Public Radio’s Tim Lloyd reports that Nixon has been criticized for his delay in deploying the National Guard. Critics said that after months of planning, the governor should have been better prepared to stop the looting and vandalism.

“Why a governor who has done that, who had taken those proactive steps on the front end, would hold the Guard back, is on the minds of every law-abiding Missouri citizen and taxpayer,” Missouri Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder said.

The decision came after violent protests Monday night during which demonstrators clashed with police and set buildings on fire; there were reports of heavy gunfire. Dozens of people were arrested.

President Obama, in remarks Tuesday, said he understands the frustrations of people who feel they aren’t treated fairly under the law, but added: “I have no sympathy at all for destroying your own communities.”

Here are some of the other headlines we’re seeing this morning:

— Protests fan out across the country.

— The Justice Department, NPR’s Carrie Johnson is reporting, is looking into whether there are wider patterns of discrimination within the Ferguson Police Department.

— And, in case you missed it Tuesday night, Wilson describes his confrontation with Brown in an interview with ABC.

We’ll be updating this post throughout the day with the latest developments.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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