Protests in Ferguson were significantly calmer on Tuesday but the peaceful atmosphere disintegrated after dark into a series of clashes that led to 47 arrests, with police claiming they were pelted with bottles containing urine.
Demonstrations began calmly in the St Louis suburb, with protesters holding signs and chanting. The majority took the advice of community leaders and wrapped things up by nightfall.
Shortly before midnight, protests took a turn for the worst when some demonstrators threw plastic bottles at police.
Missouri State Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson told CNN on Tuesday night that ‘criminals’ had thrown urine at officers.
Local community activists quickly attempted to defuse the situation by linking arms and standing in between the authorities and the remaining protesters.
Over the next hour or so arrests were made as police, who were out in force once again, attempted to gain control of the situation again.
The crowds were smaller than on previous evenings as the protests continued for the tenth night over the killing of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown.
‘Hands up! Don’t shoot’ was once again the mantra, although many demonstrators added a second chant: ‘We protesters, we don’t loot.’
Although plastic bottles were thrown, there were no reports of the teargas and Molotov cocktail exchanges that had blighted recent nights.
Malik Zulu Shabazz, the president of the Black Lawyers for Justice and former chairman of the New Black Panther Party, was out on the streets trying to instill calm into the protesters.
His organization and others, made up mostly of black volunteers, have taken it upon themselves to help ease tensions in Ferguson, confident the protesters are more likely to listen to them than police.
In many cases, they’re right. Shabazz was gentle with some, firm with others on a recent night as he urged them to get off the streets at night, and to stay away from looting.
One young man wearing a bandanna around his neck seemed primed for trouble standing near a closed restaurant until Shabazz put a hand on his shoulder and had a quiet talk. Soon, the young man nodded and walked away.
Earlier in the day, Ferguson city leaders had urged people to stay home after dark on Tuesday to ‘allow peace to settle in’ and pledged to try to improve the police force in the St. Louis suburb.
In a public statement, the city said the mayor, the City Council and employees have been exploring ways to increase the number of African-American applicants to the law enforcement academy, develop incentive programs to encourage city residency for police officers and raise money for cameras that would be attached to patrol car dashboards and officers’ vests.
‘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,’ the statement said.
Benjamin Crump, an attorney for Brown’s family, said the 18-year-old’s funeral and memorial service would be on Monday. The time and location had not been finalized.
Speaking to NBC on Tuesday, Michael Brown’s mom said the demonstrations would only stop when the cop who shot him is prosecuted.
‘Justice will bring peace,’ Lesley McSpadden told the Today show’s Matt Lauer, as she called on authorities to arrest Darren Wilson, the Ferguson police officer who shot her son on Aug. 9.
She said the violence, including looting and a report of two people shot in Ferguson Monday night, detracted from the purpose of the protests.