Unrest swept through the community last night as an outpouring of emotion by those both outraged and saddened came after a St. Louis County grand jury announced its decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the killing of Michael Brown. Fires torched buildings and cars as riots broke out in the streets of Ferguson as the community feels the pain of injustice.
The scene in Ferguson was described as "palpable and intense." People filled the streets and broke out in spontaneous marches in areas near the police department headquarters and in the neighborhood where Brown was killed on Aug 9. The unrest escalated as protesters set fire to local businesses, smashed car windows and clashed with police.
People described the scene as chaotic with "clouds of tear gas mixed with smoke from burning cars and buildings" filled the community. Violence continued into the early morning hours on Tuesday to respond to the street protests and police clashes.
Dozens of arrests were made throughout the night, while local hospitals reported several injuries.
In response to the decision, Lesley McSpadden and Michael Brown, Sr., Brown's parents released a statement:
We are profoundly disappointed that the killer of our child will not face the consequence of his actions.
While we understand that many others share our pain, we ask that you channel your frustration in ways that will make a positive change. We need to work together to fix the system that allowed this to happen.
Join with us in our campaign to ensure that every police officer working the streets in this country wears a body camera.
We respectfully ask that you please keep your protests peaceful. Answering violence with violence is not the appropriate reaction.
Let's not just make noise, let's make a difference.
While the Brown family called for peaceful protests in their statement, a national response to the decision "included spontaneous marches in dozens of cities" including Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Oakland and Portland, Oregon, while in other cities, all hell broke loose.
In an excerpt from The Guardian, one protester who was taking part in the riots stepped aside to explain his actions:
“What is going on here is real simple,” said DeAndre Rogers Austin, 18, who was with his two younger sisters. “We told them no justice, no peace. We didn’t get our justice, so they don’t get their peace. We’re fucking shit up over here. Plain and simple.”
And it seems that amongst all the chaos, there was a "thread that seemed to unite the protesters in their violence"—anger toward the police.
In a statement from President Obama regarding the grand jury's decision, he "acknowledged the deeper issues" in the situation, but said that the jury's decision is "the rule of law" and "people must accept it," according to the Hurffington Post.
"I join Michael's parents in asking anyone who protests this decision to do so peacefully," Obama said. "Let me repeat Michael's father's words: 'Hurting others or destroying property is not the answer. No matter what the grand jury decides, I do not want my son's death to be in vain.'"