Michael Brown – Protests Nationwide, Chaos erupted in Ferguson, Missouri, after a grand jury declined to indict a white police officer for the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager.
Officers were shot at and pelted with rocks and other objects, and as of 2.30am on Tuesday (1830 AEDT) 12 buildings were ablaze, said Chief Jon Belmar of the St Louis County police department.
He said he had counted 150 gun shots. But police did not return fire and no one on other side was killed. Twenty-nine demonstrators were arrested.
As the unrest continued into the night, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon called in additional National Guard forces to help restore order.
US President Barack Obama and the family of Michael Brown appealed in vain for calm after a prosecutor said a grand jury had found the policeman acted in self-defense in shooting the 18-year-old.
The death of Brown back in August sparked weeks of sometimes violent protests and a nationwide debate about forceful police tactics and race relations in America.
St Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch said Officer Darren Wilson had fired 12 times after getting into an ‘altercation’ with Brown, and that the jury had found no grounds to file charges.
As McCulloch rounded off his summary of the grand jury’s decision, Brown’s mother burst into tears and the crowd began to chant: ‘Hey, hey, ho, ho! These killer cops have got to go.’
Members of an angry crowd outside the police station where Wilson had been threw bottles and stones. A police car was set alight and nearby stores looted.
Two police cars burned so badly they essentially melted, Belmar said.
Riot officers responded with teargas, batons and flash grenades, and running battles broke out in the streets of the St Louis suburb, with armored cars moving slowly through the area.
Pat Bailey, a retiree from St Louis in her 60s, said she had expected the decision.
‘I’ve lived long enough to know that African Americans are not considered human beings,’ she said.
Protest marches began in several more US cities – including Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and the capital Washington DC – but there were no immediate reports of unrest outside Missouri.
Obama made a rapidly-organized televised appearance to appeal for calm in the Midwestern town, echoing the sentiments of the dead teenager’s family.
‘Michael Brown’s parents have lost more than anyone. We should be honoring their wishes,’ Obama said.
‘I also appeal to the law enforcement officials in Ferguson and the region to show care and restraint in managing peaceful protests that may occur.’
McCulloch told reporters the evidence presented to the jury had shown Wilson had shot as a legitimate act of self-defense during a tussle that broke out as he was responding to a robbery.
He said the ‘altercation’ happened as Wilson was sitting in his patrol car and Brown was at the window.
Wilson testified to the jury that Brown leaned into the car and attacked him, grabbing his gun.
‘During the altercation, two shots were fired by Officer Wilson while still inside the vehicle,’ McCulloch said.
After these shots were fired, Wilson is said to have left the car to pursue Brown, who at some point turned on him. Ten shots were fired and the young man was killed, hit six times.