FERGUSON, United States (AFP) – The streets of Ferguson were decidedly calmer Wednesday after two days of nationwide protests against the decision not to prosecute a white policeman who shot dead an unarmed black teenager.
Just a few dozen protesters and clergy braved rain and light snow to protest outside the police department in the St Louis suburb, where 18-year-old Michael Brown was killed on August 9.
A Missouri grand jury decided Monday not to prosecute Officer Darren Wilson, who fired the fatal shots – a move that inspired coast-to-coast anger in the United States as well as a rally across the Atlantic in London.
The simmering fury led a small group of protesters to attempt to storm St
Louis city hall earlier in the day. After they were rebuffed, extra police and a National Guard Humvee were drafted to protect the building.
In Ferguson late Wednesday, the group of mostly young people – bundled up against the cold – shouted, “This is what democracy looks like.”
One or two taunted and swore at the 50 National Guard in riot gear who stood on duty at the police department.
Witnesses said police took one person into custody.
A couple dozen protesters accompanied by clergy, volunteer medics and a gaggle of media marched down the road from Ferguson police station past city hall to an intersection where the National Guard had a discreet presence.
They briefly blocked traffic but dispersed peacefully after police in riot gear turned up. Protest organisers ordered them out of the road onto the sidewalk to avoid confrontation with the police.
During the day volunteer clean-up crews swept the streets of Ferguson, where angry crowds on Monday torched businesses and looted stores.
Heavy security – police, state troopers and National Guard troops – was still visible in the streets Wednesday, but the situation was stabilising. Already, Tuesday night did not see the scale of destruction that followed Monday’s decision.