By Steve Giegerich, Jesse Bogan and Kim Bell, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
FERGUSON, Mo. — A calmer dawn broke Monday morning after a night of protest and looting in Ferguson left broken glass and at least one burned-out building.
Officer Brian Schellman of the St. Louis County police said two officers were injured overnight Sunday — one was hit by a brick and one suffered knee injuries. Police arrested 32 people for theft, assault, or burglary.
The protests followed the fatal shooting on Saturday of Michael Brown, 18, by police. Authorities said Sunday that a police officer shot Brown, who was unarmed, after the teen attacked the Ferguson officer. After protests and a vigil earlier in the day, some people broke into stores and looted them, setting fire to a QuikTrip convenience store and leaving glass and other debris strewn about.
Schellman said the looting and destruction stopped and the area had quieted a down about 3:30 a.m. Monday.
He said the police helicopter was shot at once or twice, but was not hit. He said the night was a scary situation for even veteran officers.
Jennings school district canceled the first day of school Monday, saying it was concerned for student safety in the wake of Sunday night’s violence.
“Safety is our uppermost concern,” a Jennings release said. “At this time we do not feel it’s safe for our students to walk to school.”
Officials said they hoped classes could begin Tuesday.
On the lot of a QuikTrip that was looted and burned Sunday night, some men who said they had been there last night defended the damage as a response injustice.
DeAndre Smith, 30, of Ferguson was happy to justify the looting when a reporter asked him about it Monday morning.
“This is exactly what is supposed to be happening when an injustice is happening in your community,” he said, adding: “You have kids getting killed for nothing.”
Smith, who moved to St. Louis from New York in December, said there could be more to come.
“I don’t think it’s over honestly,” he said. “I just think they got a taste of what fighting back means.”
Karl McCarty, 39, of Bellefontaine Neighbors, Mo., watched the chaos Sunday night and was back again Monday. He said he had a message for the young men leading the charge:
“Let it go, let justice prevail. And if doesn’t prevail in the way they want, don’t do this again.”
McCarty said as a black man he sympathizes with the mother of Brown greatly, but thinks the protest becoming violent and destructive was all wrong.
“Sometime we create our own demise. You didn’t hurt Ferguson police, you hurt yourself,” said McCarty, who is a contractor in St. Louis.
“My heart goes out to her,” he said of the dead teen’s mother. “At a time we could have been grieving or supporting her, I feel we failed her. Instead of having a nice, simple vigil, it turned into chaos confusion and destruction.”
Others also showed up to express dismay at the looting or help clean up.
Leonette Hilliard, who works as a middle school English teacher, stopped by the QuikTrip. Using one of her school folders, she wrote a note to the store and taped it to the side wall.
“Corporate neighbor: I am sorry this act of robbery and violence has happened. Please return soon.”
The note was taped over graffiti saying “187 county police,” the 187 a slang reference to murder.
She said she comes to the store to two or three times per week and has been doing so for about 15 years.
“This just doesn’t represent who we are as a community and I wanted just to say something to do something that was productive,” she said.
Pamela Richardson, 51, of Jennings, Mo., came to Ferguson on Monday morning and started picking up trash left by the looters at the QuikTrip store. A bit of smoke was still coming from the burned-out building. She rounded up beer cans and discarded Powerball tickets and crushed soda cans from the lot.
“It sends the wrong kind of message,” she said of the looters. “Don’t destroy other people’s property that they worked hard for because something else has happened. One doesn’t outweigh the other, you know. No connection between the two.”
Workers at an AutoZone swept up broken glass from the windows that were shattered and workers at a nearby cellphone store waited on a company to board up the front plate glass window.
The glass walls of a metro bus stop were broken, and trash was strewn up and down the road.
The NAACP released a statement Monday morning saying state and local branches would seek answers about the shooting of Brown and the national office would monitor the situation.
“The death of yet another African-American at the hands of those sworn to protect and serve the community where he lived is heartbreaking,” NAACP president Cornell Williams Brooks said in the statement. “Michael Brown was preparing to begin college, and now his family is preparing to bury their child — his life cut short in a tragic encounter with the police.”
The group called for calm collective action.
“Even as we call for accountability by those charged with protecting the community, we call on the community to act — collectively and calmly until we secure justice for the family of Michael Brown,” the statement said.
AFP Photo/Whitney Curtis
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