Tensions simmer in Ferguson, dozens arrested during largely peaceful protests

Nearly two dozen people were arrested overnight after a day of protests and demonstrations in commemoration of the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown last August.

Lucas Jackson/Reuters
St. Louis County police officers hold an anti-police demonstrator in Ferguson, Mo., on Monday. Police in riot gear clashed with protesters who had gathered in the streets of Ferguson early on Tuesday to mark the anniversary of the police shooting of an unarmed black teen whose death sparked a national outcry over race relations.

For four straight nights, protesters in Ferguson, Mo., took to the streets in protest of what they see as racially motivated police aggression and to honor the first anniversary of the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown at the hands of a police officer.

Nearly two dozen people were arrested late Monday night and in the early hours of Tuesday morning. Earlier in the day on Monday, almost 60 people, including civil rights activist Cornel West were taken into custody for blocking the entrance to a St. Louis federal courthouse. The night before, protests had grown violent and another 18-year-old was shot by police. 

Throughout the day and night Monday, protesters chanted, beat drums, carried signs, and some blocked traffic on West Florissant Avenue and on the Interstate 70. St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger to declare a state of emergency in the St. Louis suburb on Monday, in effort to preempt the kind of violence that marked the wave of protests last August following Mr. Brown's death.

"They're not going to take the street tonight. That's not going to happen," Police Chief Jon Belmar told the Associated Press.

Some threw debris at officers, but no police or civilian injuries were reported. County police spokesman Shawn McGuire said there were no shots fired, burglaries, looting, or property damage, and police did not use smoke or tear gas.

The victim of the Sunday night shooting, Tyrone Harris Jr., was a friend of Brown’s, according to his father Tyrone Harris Sr. While the police account says the younger Mr. Harris was injured when he and several other teens opened-fire on officers, his father said this was “a bunch of lies.”

As The Christian Science Monitor reported on Monday:

The older Mr. Harris told CBS affiliate KMOV that his son was not armed and that he had been ‘running away from the situation, and police ended up shooting him.’ He added that his son was in ‘the wrong place at the wrong time.’

The older Harris told the Post-Dispatch that his son was ‘real close’ with Brown. Both had attended Normandy High School in St. Louis.

‘We think there’s a lot more to this than what’s being said,’ he told the paper.

St. Louis County prosecutors on Monday filed 10 charges against the younger Mr. Harris, including one involving firearms and first-degree assault on a law enforcement officer. All the charges are felonies.”

"My son was running to the police to ask for help, and he was shot," Mr. Harris told AP. "It's all a bunch of lies ... They're making my son look like a criminal."

However, Chief Belmar says that police had been keeping an eye on the younger Mr. Harris throughout the night because they suspected he was armed. According to the chief, Harris fired on a van full of police officers running away. Harris was previously charged with stealing a motor vehicle and a gun and fleeing arrest, according to online court documents obtained by AP.

Harris was in critical condition after surgery as of Tuesday morning. He is scheduled to appear in court later this month for the charges brought against him last November.

This report contains material from the Associated Press.

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