US & Canada

Michael Brown: Ferguson protest violence subsides

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Media captionThe BBC's Rajini Vaidyanathan reported throughout the night, as peaceful protests turned tense

Police in Ferguson, Missouri say they have arrested 47 people during a mostly peaceful protest over the police shooting of a black teenager.

Despite the arrests, Tuesday evening's protest was more subdued than previous nights which had seen serious violence.

US Attorney General Eric Holder is due in Ferguson later, as central authorities try to calm the situation.

A police officer shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was unarmed, on 9 August.

Ferguson, a suburb of the city of St Louis, has seen 10 nights of clashes between police and demonstrators since the shooting.

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Media captionFerguson police captain: "Tonight we saw a different dynamic... there were no Molotov cocktails tonight, there were no shootings"

'Different dynamic'

Missouri Highway Patrol Capt Ron Johnson, who has led the police response since Thursday, said that the protest began peacefully but that during the night some protesters threw bottles of water and urine at police.

"As of 01:00 (06:00 GMT), we have 47 arrests," he said.

However, he stressed that police had not been fired upon and that they did not use tear gas on protesters. "Tonight we saw a different dynamic," he said.

"Tonight the elders in this community, volunteers, activists and the clergy came out in large numbers. They walked, they talked with people. They urged order and common peace", Capt Johnson said.

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Media captionIn Ferguson, Missouri, the days have been spent preparing for the long nights, and reflecting on the struggles between residents and police

The relative calm is in contrast to Monday night's violence when Capt Johnson said police came under "heavy gunfire" and responded with tear gas and stun grenades.

This was despite the deployment of National Guard units in the town on Monday.


Many local residents believe officer Darren Wilson, who shot Michael Brown, has not been punished. He has been placed on administrative leave.

Witnesses have said Mr Brown was shot as he held his hands up in a position of surrender, while the police and supporters of Mr Wilson have said he fired during a fight with Mr Brown.

The police response, flooding the town with hundreds of officers in riot gear, has been criticised as heavy-handed.

Authorities were also criticised for not being transparent enough in the immediate aftermath of the shooting.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Dozens of protesters marched peacefully on Tuesday night
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption After Monday night's running battles, the mood throughout the day was much calmer

On Tuesday, political leaders had called for people to stay indoors to "allow peace to settle in".

"We plan to learn from this tragedy, as we further provide for the safety of our residents and businesses and progress our community through reconciliation and healing," said a joint statement from the city's political leaders.

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Media captionA new poll by the Pew Research Center has found US reaction to the police killing of Michael Brown falls along distinct racial lines.

Meanwhile, the St Louis county prosecutor's office on Tuesday said it would present evidence against Mr Wilson to a grand jury on Wednesday.

The jury will determine whether or not to charge him with a crime.

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Media captionVienna Simmonds, whose son was fatally shot in 2008, says there is "no justice being done" for those killed

Both St Louis officials and the US justice department are conducting investigations into the case, which has provoked demonstrations throughout the country.

The police shot another black man on Tuesday in St Louis, in an incident many feared could exacerbate the tension in Ferguson.

He was suspected of robbery, and had approached them brandishing a knife. The second shooting has so far had little or no impact on the ongoing protests.

Ferguson unrest


Population of Ferguson, Missouri


Black or black African

  • 6% Police officers are black

  • 9% Unemployed

  • 21% Families living below the poverty line


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