Ferguson protesters began targeting Black Friday sales at major retailers overnight in a new tactic to vent their anger at a grand jury decision not to indict a white Officer Darren Wilson who fatally shot black teenager Michael Brown.
About 75 demonstrators protested peacefully, chanting “Hands up, don’t shoot!”, bemusing bargain-hunters pushing their brimming shopping carts inside a Walmart in another nearby suburb of St. Louis.
They dispersed peacefully when ordered by a small group of police, moving on to a Target store where they staged a similar demonstration. More protests were planned for Friday.
Ferguson became a flashpoint for often troubled US race relations after Officer Darren Wilson shot dead Michael Brown on August 9.
The grand jury’s decision on November 24 not to charge Darren Wilson prompted a spasm of fury in Ferguson. About a dozen businesses were torched and more than 100 people were arrested in clashes with riot police that rumbled on into Tuesday night.
Before heading in convoy to Walmart late on Thursday, a group of some 100 demonstrators ate Thanksgiving dinner, sang, prayed and discussed their new strategy in the basement of a St. Louis church.
Ferguson, home to about 21,000 people, is a predominantly black city where almost all the political leaders and police are white.
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Michael Brown’s family say they are “crushed” by the grand jury’s decision not to charge Officer Darren Wilson.
Michael Brown Sr. told NBC news his son’s character had been “crucified”.
Separately, Michael Brown’s mother said Darren Wilson had been “disrespectful”.
Darren Wilson, who shot dead Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, on August 9, has told ABC he has a “clean conscience”.
There were protests over the ruling in 13 US cities on Tuesday night.
In Ferguson, there was some unrest as protesters scuffled with police, and a police car outside the town hall was set alight.
However, police said security was “much better” than Monday, when there was widespread rioting and looting, and more than a dozen buildings were set alight.
About 2,000 National Guard troops were deployed in the city on Tuesday night, up from 700 on Monday. Forty-four people were arrested.
Rallies in the area continued on November 26, as at least 200 protesters gathered outside St Louis City Hall, holding a mock trial for Darren Wilson.
Some demonstrators stormed the hall, shouting “shame, shame”, and forcing police to lockdown the building, AP news agency reported. Two people were reportedly arrested.
Anger at the ruling has spread to cities across the US.
Protests were reported on Tuesday night in 12 cities, in addition to Ferguson: Philadelphia, Seattle, Albuquerque, New York, Cleveland, Los Angeles, Oakland, Minneapolis, Atlanta, Portland, Chicago and Boston.
Those demonstrations were mostly peaceful, but rioting broke out in Oakland, California, where protesters started a street fire.
In Los Angeles, 130 protesters were arrested for disorderly conduct, the LA Times reported.
Police also arrested several demonstrators in Boston, Atlanta and New York, Reuters said.
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Ferguson protests have spread across the US after the grand jury’s decision not to charge white policeman Darren Wilson who shot black teenager Michael Brown.
Demonstrations from New York to Seattle were mostly peaceful but rioting broke out in Oakland, California.
There was some unrest in Ferguson itself, with police making 44 arrests, but the town did not see rioting on the scale of Monday night.
Officer Darren Wilson says he has a “clean conscience”.
Darren Wilson, who shot 18-year-old Michael Brown on August 9, told ABC News that in the struggle which preceded the shooting, he had felt “like a five-year-old holding on to [US wrestler] Hulk Hogan”.
Many in Ferguson’s predominantly African-American community had called for Darren Wilson to be charged with murder, but the grand jury’s decision means the police officer will not face state criminal charges over the shooting.
Lawyers for Michael Brown’s family denounced the grand jury’s decision as “unfair” while condemning the violence that followed the decision.
St Louis County police chief Jon Belmar said November 25 had been “generally a much better night” in Ferguson, a town of 21,000 people.
Tear gas was fired just once, he said, when rioters smashed windows at the Ferguson town hall. There was only one report of shooting, he added, when a car was set alight.
Some 2,200 National Guard soldiers were deployed to assist police in keeping order in and around the town.
Protests were reported in 12 cities: St Louis itself as well as Seattle, Albuquerque, New York, Cleveland, Los Angeles, Oakland, Minneapolis, Atlanta, Portland, Chicago and Boston.
In Oakland, in the San Francisco Bay area, rioters vandalized police cars and businesses in the centre during a second night of unrest in the port city of 406,000 people.
Looting was reported in several locations, including a classic car dealership and a mobile phone store, while a main road was briefly blocked, the US broadcaster CBS reports.
Speaking from Chicago on November 25, President Barack Obama said there was “no excuse” for destructive behavior and criminal acts of rioting, adding that those responsible should be prosecuted.
The frustration seen by the grand jury’s decision, the president said, had “deep roots in many communities of color who have a sense that our laws are not being enforced uniformly or fairly”.
Barack Obama said he had ordered Attorney General Eric Holder to look at what steps could be taken to build trust in communities and make sure that “law enforcement is fair”.
Much of the debate since August has centered on whether Michael Brown was attempting to surrender to Darren Wilson when he was shot.
Speaking to ABC News in his first public comments, Darren Wilson said there was nothing he could have done differently.
“The reason I have a clean conscience is because I know I did my job right,” he said.
Darren Wilson denied witness statements that Michael Brown had put his hands up, insisting race had played no part in the confrontation.
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The Ferguson grand jury’s decision not to bring charges over the killing of Michael Brown sparked violence in the St Louis suburb.
A local police chief said the violence was “probably much worse than the worst night we ever had in August” after the black teenager was killed.
St Louis county police chief Jon Belmar said he had heard 150 shots fired by crowds.
Michael Brown was shot by white police officer Darren Wilson on August 9, sparking protests.
Many in the African American community had called for Darren Wilson to be charged with murder.
President Barack Obama joined Michael Brown’s family on November 24 in appealing for calm, urging Americans to accept the decision was “the grand jury’s to make”.
“I didn’t see a lot of peaceful protest out there tonight, and I’m disappointed about that,” Jon Belmar said.
“Unfortunately this spun out of control.”
Most of at least a dozen burned businesses were “total losses”, he said, and two police cars had been “basically melted”.
“I don’t think we were underprepared,” he added.
“But I’ll be honest with you, unless we bring 10,000 policemen in here, I don’t think we can prevent folks who really are intent on destroying a community.”
Some protesters charged barricades and taunted police. Chants of “murderer” could be heard.
Police responded with smoke and tear gas.
After the situation calmed down, he added, he hoped there would be an “opportunity to really grow and change a lot of things, and make sure [Michael Brown’s] death didn’t mean nothing”.
Explaining the jurors’ decision, state prosecutor Robert McCulloch said their job had been to separate fact from fiction, and that some witness statements had been contradicted by physical evidence.
“These grand jurors poured their hearts and soul into this process,” he said.
Protesters have been chanting, “Hands up, don’t shoot” – a reference to statements by some witnesses who said Michael Brown had had his hands up in apparent surrender to the officer when he was shot.
Police say there was a struggle between Michael Brown and Darren Wilson before the shooting.
In his own testimony, Darren Wilson says that before the shooting Michael Brown pushed him back into his car, hit him and briefly grabbed his drawn gun.
The jury was made up of 12 randomly picked citizens – nine white and three black.
At least nine votes were needed in order to issue an indictment.
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