Here’s a summary of events surrounding the protests in Ferguson, Mo. memorializing Michael Brown’s death.
COMPILED FROM WIRE REPORTS
Protesters, police gather
On Sunday, Aug. 9 − the one-year anniversary of Michael Brown, Jr.’s death − more than 1,000 protesters marched peacefully to commemorate the tragedy.
The anniversary demonstrations had been peaceful until Sunday night, when 40 to 50 gunshots rang out during a confrontation between two groups, police said. Protesters ducked for cover and a young man opened fire at an unmarked police car, police said.
Officers returned fire and critically wounded Tyrone Harris Jr., 18, who remains hospitalized.
Charged with 10 felonies, Harris is being held in lieu of $250,000 cash-only bond.
Earlier in the day, police arrested 57 protesters in nearby St. Louis who were demanding the dissolution of the Ferguson Police Department.
On Facebook, Michael Brown, Sr. posted a thank-you message: “My family and I are truly humbled by the level of support that we received over this weekend. Our marches were all done very peacefully. So please be careful, mindful and protect yourselves from those who would like to see this be unsuccessful.”
County Executive Steve Stenger signed an executive order Monday handing over policing duties in Ferguson to St. Louis County police.
“It is because of their ability to maintain order that I find it prudent to continue the state of emergency for at least the next 24 hours,” Stenger said.
‘Do your job’
Another day of marches began downtown Monday in St. Louis. About 150 demonstrators gathered at Christ Church Cathedral to plan a march and discuss methods of civil disobedience.
Then the protesters marched to the Thomas F. Eagleton U.S. Courthouse. After arriving about noon at the courthouse, the protesters were backed by a chanting chorus of “DOJ, do your job,” referring to the U.S. Department of Justice, while they read from a petition that asked the federal government to disband the Ferguson Police Department.
Shortly before 1 p.m., more than 50 protesters climbed over the barricades that had been set up outside of the courthouse and sat down, locked arms and began singing and chanting.
When that move did not produce any arrests after about 20 minutes, the seated group rose and rushed toward the front door of the courthouse, and sat down again. Shortly after that, about 30 members of the St. Louis Police Department arrived on the scene and arrests began.
United States Attorney Richard Callahan said in a statement that 57 people were arrested. He estimated the total number of protesters as being between 100 and 200 protesters and characterized the protest as peaceful. He said those arrested would be released after being given summonses. Those arrested included national activist Cornel West.
Other protesters near the Old Courthouse used balloons to lift a banner saying “Racism still lives here” over downtown, with the Arch in the background.
As protests in Ferguson continued on Monday night, at least three men openly carrying assault rifles approached the south end of West Florissant Avenue − and began to attract a crowd themselves.
The men wore “Oath Keepers” hats and desert camouflage, declined to identify themselves and it was unclear whether police officers had questioned their armed presence.
One man, who declined to give his name, told a Los Angeles Times reporter he was part of a group protecting the Constitution and reporters for the website Infowars.com.
Infowars.com said Tuesday that members of Oath Keepers were protecting businesses and were with their reporters Tuesday, but were not hired for protection.
“The Oath Keepers went to Ferguson on their own without consulting with Infowars,” said an article on the website, run by conspiracy-oriented Texas radio host Alex Jones.
One of the armed men, who identified himself only as John, told a Times reporter that he lives in southwest Missouri and “we’re here to show that carrying arms is a right, and we have that right.”
St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar told NBC News that the Oath Keepers’ presence was “both unnecessary and inflammatory.”
White and armed
The display of firearms was unsettling to many among some 200 demonstrators who had converged on West Florrisant Avenue beginning Monday night.
The Oath Keepers’ St. Louis chapter says on Facebook that it is composed of “current and formerly serving military, police and citizens who pledge to fulfill the oath to defend the Constitution.”
A small cadre of Black Lives Matter protesters approached the men and demanded to know whether they were at the protest to incite a riot. They noted that a line of more than 40 helmeted police officers stood across West Florissant Avenue watching 100 or more protesters, while the men openly carrying weapons were left undisturbed.
“The police leave you alone, you’re White, what about if I … carried a gun out there?” asked one Black protester.
According to Missouri law, anyone lawfully permitted to carry a firearm may “briefly and openly display the firearm to the ordinary sight of another person, unless the firearm is intentionally displayed in an angry or threatening manner, not in necessary self defense.”
Shortly after 10 p.m., protesters began to scatter as police began to make arrests. There were about 50 reporters, 75 cops and 150 protesters at the scene. Police made at least nine arrests for resisting or interfering with arrest, they said.
Also on Monday, reporters Wesley Lowery of The Washington Post and Ryan Reilly of the Huffington Post learned they had been charged with trespassing and interfering with a police officer in a separate incident while reporting on the unrest that followed the police shooting of Brown.
About 70 people took to the streets Tuesday night — fewer than the several hundred on Sunday and Monday.
At one point, about 20 protesters blocked West Florissant Avenue and forced a city bus to turn around. About 50 officers in helmets chased them from the street. St. Louis County police said in a statement that some protesters threw rocks at officers but soon stopped, and no other violence was reported.
St. Louis County police Wednesday reported making no arrests during street protests in Ferguson the night before.
A St. Louis County police spokesman said officers negotiated with several protesters to clear West Florissant Avenue about 9:30 p.m. Shortly after 10 p.m., officers reported rocks being thrown at them but police took no action.
Police said there were no injuries during Tuesday night and Wednesday morning protests and no calls for shots fired, shootings, looting or property damage.
St. Louis County Executive Stenger said the state of emergency he had declared would continue and a decision will be made about extending the measure further into the week.
Information from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (TNS) was used in this report.