It’s been 24 hours since the world learned that a grand jury decided not to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, and demonstrations are expected to continue into the night. In Missouri, officials are taking steps to avoid more violence after last night’s unrest left dozens of businesses burned and looted. Governor Jay Nixon said he’s tripling the number of National Guardsmen in the St. Louis area tonight, bringing the total to about 2,200. Last night the events outside of Ferguson were mostly peaceful, and people are gathering again in cities across the country. Thousands are marching tonight in New York City, and they’ve already shut down several bridges and tunnels. We’ll be live-blogging all of tonight’s developments here.
3:29 a.m.: In his nightly protest recap, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said this was a “much better night” compared to Monday. Police made 44 arrests, including four felony arrests for unlawful use of a weapon and assaults against police officers. He displayed a variety of objects thrown at officers, including jars of urine.
Rioters broke several windows at Ferguson City Hall and badly damaged a police vehicle parked there. That was the only location where tear gas was used on Tuesday. A car was set on fire near the memorial where Michael Brown was shot, and that was the only time officers heard gunfire tonight.
And with that, we’re signing off for the night.
1:55 a.m.: While protesters in Ferguson were mostly peaceful, there was more looting on Tuesday night into Wednesday morning. Police have been working to clear the streets and have threatened to arrest reporters if they don’t move.
12:07 a.m.: Police in Ferguson cleared the area near city hall, and the fire was reportedly put out by a protester.
11:41 p.m.: Diego Ibanez, the 26-year-old Occupy Wall Street activist who threw red paint on NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton and his security detail during Monday night’s protest, is being held on $30,000 bond. According to the Village Voice, he’s been charged with “second-degree aggravated harassment, six counts of obstructing governmental administration, six counts of third-degree criminal mischief, and two counts of second-degree assault.”
11:29 p.m.: The march through Brooklyn is reportedly winding down (for now), but people are still demonstrating in Times Square.
11:04 p.m.: A police cruiser has been set on fire in front of Ferguson City Hall.
There are also peaceful protests taking place near the police department.
10:39 p.m: The protests in Ferguson and New York are getting the most attention, but people are also marching in Baltimore, D.C., Los Angeles, Houston, Cleveland, New Orleans, Boston, Atlanta, and Oakland, to name only a few. According to CNN, there were planned demonstrations in 37 states on Tuesday.
10:29 p.m.: Here’s video of the scene in Times Square:
10:23 p.m.: The situation in Ferguson is becoming more tense. Protesters are blocking the streets, and police have already made several arrests.
10:18 p.m.: President Obama made a statement immediately after the grand jury decision was announced, but since it didn’t get very high marks, he tried again on Tuesday.
“The frustrations that we’ve seen are not about a particular incident. They have deep roots in many communities of color who have a sense that our laws are not always being enforced uniformly or fairly,” Obama told a crowd in Chicago.
“There are productive ways of responding and expressing those frustrations, and there are destructive ways of responding,” he added. “Burning buildings, torching cars, destroying property, putting people at risk — that’s destructive, and there’s no excuse for it. Those are criminal acts, and people should be prosecuted if they engage in criminal acts.”
10:15 p.m.: In New York, all eastbound lanes of the Queens Midtown Tunnel are shut down. Another group of protesters moved from Manhattan into Brooklyn and stopped at Barclays Center.
9:31 p.m.: Thousands of protesters have stopped traffic and shut down bridges all over New York City. NBC New York reports that the march started in Union Square, moved north to Times Square, then back down toward the Manhattan Bridge. There were arrests in Times Square, and the protests shut down than Manhattan Bridge, FDR Drive, and the Lincoln Tunnel. The Manhattan, Brooklyn, Williamsburg, and 59th Street bridges have reportedly been cleared, and protesters are now stopped in front of the United Nations.
9:11 p.m.: Ferguson residents say we should expect the protests there to continue, because they were never just about forcing the indictment of Darren Wilson. “We weren’t even expecting an indictment,” says Cheyenne Green, 21, a founding member of a Ferguson grass-action group called Lost Voices that operated out of tent city in a parking lot, before the police raided it and arrested several female members. Today the Lost Voices joined the march that shut down Missouri’s I-44 (a section of I-70) this afternoon and is going back again tonight. “Justice isn’t even by a government decision, it’s by God,” she says. “We’re still hopeful.” They’ve got the federal investigation into Mike Brown’s shooting still going, and the killings of Kajieme Powell and of VonDerrit Myers to think about. Plus, the police brutality Ferguson residents have been protesting, she says, was on full display last night. About ten minutes after they started marching on West Florrisant Street, she says, “the police started throwing tear gas — 10 and 15 cans at a time.” Snipers lined roofs. The crowd scattered and some raced to their cars in a parking lot that’s exit was blocked. “So even if they wanted to get out, they couldn’t,” she says. “And the police started throwing tear gas in there, too!”
She believes that the looting wasn’t the doing of Ferguson residents. “There were so many faces I’d never seen before,” she says. “And we had many, many meetings in the community about what to do if there wasn’t an indictment, and they were all calm. Yes, there was some looting, but not all of us were doing that,” she says. “What the media never shows is us being peaceful.”
Also in Ferguson this afternoon, another longtime protester Angela Whitman, 44, was recovering from a trip to the emergency room. She’d been on the streets till 3 a.m., then started feeling the effects of high blood pressure and had also been feeling horrible from all the smoke inhalation. She couldn’t go to her local Walgreens to fill her prescription because it had burned down, and the nearest drugstore was a 30-minute drive away, but all the gas stations were closed.
She, too, was not surprised about the grand jury’s decision. “If they never locked Darren Wilson up from day one, what the hell makes you think they’re going to indict him?” Whitman asked. Nor was she surprised that Rev. Al Sharpton had been in Ferguson making speeches at a local church. Whitman had gone despite not feeling great. “There was a lot of screaming and hollering, people telling him that he needs to go back where he came from. Everyone feels their emotions talking.” People are sick of hearing Sharpton talk about changing the laws. “We already know the law is not working for us,” she says. “And yes, that needs to change, but when is that going to happen? I feel like it’s also about education and knowing what we can and can’t do.”
She was also convinced that the looting had been done by people from outside the community. “They weren’t thinking about the mother that depends on that job to pay for her life and her kid. They’re not thinking about their next-door neighbors, the mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers — those people who work the jobs in our community so we can provide for ourselves.” And they certainly weren’t thinking about Whitman, who just needed her local Walgreens not to be burnt down so she could get her medication. —Jada Yuan
All updates are by Margaret Hartmann unless otherwise noted.