Ferguson Protests Spread Across US

Ferguson Protests Spread Across USFerguson Protests Spread Across US

Protest marches have sprung up in cities across the United States, as a huge security operation is trying to stifle clashes in Ferguson, the town at the center of the country’s latest racially-charged riots.

Violent unrest erupted in the St Louis suburb for a second night on Tuesday, after Monday’s decision by a grand jury not to prosecute a white police officer for shooting dead an unarmed black teenager, the AFP reported.

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon said the National Guard force in the Ferguson area had been tripled to more than 2,000 troops to back up officers’ beleaguered local police force.

A St Louis police patrol car was burnt by protesters and the force declared the demonstration an “illegal gathering,” warning marchers and journalists alike that they faced arrest.

Meanwhile, armed Missouri National Guard troopers sealed off West Florissant, the road running through Ferguson that was the scene of the worst looting and arson on Monday night after the verdict was announced.

At the Ferguson police station riot police dispersed around 100 protesters chanting and waving placards, including one that read: “We will not be silenced.”

The crowd fell back towards Ferguson city hall, where a patrol car was set on fire and riot officers fired tear gas and deployed imposing armored personnel carriers to regain control.

Meanwhile, thousands of marchers snaked along streets and freeways, disrupting traffic on bridges and in tunnels in New York City -- leading to a number of arrests.

  Pepper Spray  

In sprawling Los Angeles, 500 people, a racially-mixed crowd including families and children, marched on police headquarters. In Portland and Denver police reportedly resorted to pepper spray.

CNN reported that gatherings large and small had been reported in 170 communities nationwide.

US President Barack Obama called for rioters to be prosecuted, but acknowledged the deep-rooted frustrations of minorities who feel they are unfairly treated by police.

“There are productive ways of responding and expressing those frustrations and there are destructive ways of responding,” he said.

“Burning buildings, torching cars, destroying property, putting people at risk. That’s destructive and there’s no excuse for it. Those are criminal acts.”


   ‘A Nationwide Problem’

Civil rights firebrand Al Sharpton said the Brown case renewed a nationwide fight for greater police accountability.

“This is not a Ferguson problem... This is a problem all over the country,” Sharpton said. “We may have lost one round but the fight is not over. They have broken our hearts, but not our backs.”

Separate protests flared, meanwhile, in Cleveland, Ohio, following the fatal shooting by police of a 12-year-old black boy holding a toy gun at the weekend.

 Brown’s death, the aggressive police response to protests and now the result of the grand jury hearing have stirred racial tensions in Ferguson, a mainly black suburb with a mostly white police force.

 The town’s community of 21,000 has been on edge since the shooting, and residents complain of years of racial prejudice and heavy-handed police tactics.