Washington, Nov 26:
As night fell, Missouri state in Midwestern United States deployed more forces to quell violence in Ferguson after a grand jury failed to indict a white police officer in the August shooting of an unarmed black teenager.
“We are bringing more resources to Ferguson and other parts of the region to prevent a repetition of the lawlessness experienced overnight,” Governor Jay Nixon said Tuesday night as the number of National Guardsmen was tripled from 700 to 2,200.
In Ferguson, a small town of 22,000, nearly 70 percent of them black, with all but four of its 53 strong police force white, buildings were burned, stores were looted and shots were fired Tuesday after Monday night’s verdict, according to media reports.
Activists also took to streets across the country, with more than 130 protests planned in 37 US states, Washington and Canada.
Reports of protests came in from cities like Boston, Baltimore, Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York.
The grand jury had Monday night declined to indict white police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of 18-year-old of Michael Brown, a black teenager after an altercation in the St. Louis suburb Aug 9.
On Monday night, 21 fires were set and at least 12 buildings were burned, police reported looting, and gunfire broke out repeatedly, NBC News reported citing officials. More than 80 persons were reported arrested, about 60 of them in Ferguson.
Ten police cars, mostly belonging to the county, were damaged, including two which were completely burned, it said citing St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar. Three officers suffered injuries.
“Last night, criminals intent on lawlessness and destruction, terrorized this community,” Nixon said at an afternoon news conference Tuesday.
“I am deeply saddened for the people of Ferguson who woke up to see parts of their community in ruins. No one should have to live like this, no one deserves this. We must do better and we will.”
In Chicago, about 100 protesters, most in their 20s, gathered for a 28-hour sit-in outside Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office, according to New York Times.
Organizers said they had chosen the time frame based on a study that one black person was killed in the US by the police or armed vigilantes every 28 hours.
Speaking in Chicago, President Barack Obama appealed for calm saying the grand jury’s decision “upset a lot of people” reflecting frustrations that have “deep roots in many communities of color.”
Noting that most people gathered across the country were engaged in “overwhelmingly peaceful protests,” Obama said, people want to build “more trust between law enforcement and some of these communities.”
He said it was “not my job as president to comment on ongoing investigations”, but he had asked Attorney General Eric Holder to hold “regional meetings focused on building trust in our communities.”
South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), an umbrella community organization said it “stands in solidarity with the family and friends of the late Michael Brown, and with communities across the US who are deeply saddened” by the grand jury decision.
It called on the Department of Justice to swiftly reform the guidance on racial profiling to meaningfully protect all communities against law enforcement profiling.
Commenting on “The Meaning of the Ferguson Riots” the New York Times said, “It shows once again that distrust of law enforcement presents a grave danger to the civic fabric of the United States.”
While the burning and looting of local businesses cannot be condoned or excused, “the frustrations of Ferguson residents – most of whom have behaved lawfully since protests began over the summer – are more than understandable,” said the Washington Post.
(Arun Kumar can be contacted at [email protected])