What We Know So Far
- At least six people were taken into custody in Ferguson on Tuesday night.
- Stores were looted, buildings burned, and protesters clashed with police Monday after a grand jury did not indict Police Officer Darren Wilson.
- Eighty-two people were arrested, about 25 buildings were burned, and several guns were recovered on Monday night.
- Forty-four people were arrested on Tuesday night, including four on felony charges. Police seized two Molotov cocktails, but said Tuesday had been "a much better night."
- Gov. Jay Nixon increased the number of National Guard officers deployed to 2,200.
- Rev. Al Sharpton and Brown family lawyers called the grand jury process a "fixed fight."
After relative calm, protests in Ferguson and across the U.S. on Tuesday night grew unruly.
After a night of relative calm, protests against the Ferguson grand jury decision descended into unrest Tuesday night in several major U.S. cities.
In Ferguson, after what had been a relatively quiet night, acts of vandalism began to spread across the city as authorities ordered demonstrators to disperse, deeming a large assembly of people gathered outside City Hall illegal shortly after 10 p.m. CT.
Forty-four people were arrested Tuesday night in Ferguson, most for misdemeanor crimes, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said at a news conference. Four of the arrests were for a felony charge — one for unlawful use of a weapon, and three for assault on police.
Bottles, rocks, pieces of concrete, and a Molotov cocktail were thrown at officers, officials said. Police also confiscated two weapons.
Belmar said protesters damaged several windows at Ferguson City Hall and vandalized a police vehicle, and a Molotov cocktail was recovered at the scene. Despite the incidents, officials said it was "generally a much better night" after the fiery chaos that erupted on Monday.
The acts of unrest intruded on what had otherwise been a narrative centered on self-policing and restraint on the part of hundreds, if not thousands, of protesters who took to the streets Tuesday night in cities from New York to Los Angeles, Atlanta, Dallas, Phoenix, Portland, and Boston.
Before the unrest, the cumulative effect was mostly limited to bringing traffic to a halt on major thoroughfares. In New York, Times Square was brought to a complete standstill as protesters walked amid a virtual parking lot.
In Oakland, protesters set fire to trash dumpsters and debris across major thoroughfares, while the California Highway Patrol office reported being hit with rocks and other items. In L.A., some protesters spray-painted buildings and threw bottles at officers lined up outside police headquarters.
In L.A., protesters stole barricades and arranged them across the busy 101 freeway near downtown, forcing a full closure. In Portland, protesters closed the double-decker Marquam Bridge.
Until the unrest started to unfold, local authorities in the cities affected by the marches had reported few if any arrests. But as the night wore on, it was unclear how far police agencies would allow protesters to go before taking a more hard line as more arrests -- mostly for vandalism -- started to pop up.
Still, it was a far cry from Monday night, when a St. Louis County grand jury's decision against indicting Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson, who fatally shot 18-year-old Michael Brown, sparked a night of violence and destruction.
When it was all said and done, more than 80 people had been arrested, and dozens of buildings and vehicles reduced to ashes and rubble.
In an interview with CNN, Brown's great-uncle Rev. Charles Ewing said the family were heartened by the widespread show of support, but reiterated their opposition to acts of vandalism or violence.
He cited the damage done to dozens of Ferguson businesses and vehicles the night before.
"Violence is not the answer," Ewing said. "It's very unnecessary and it's not proving a point at all."
Officers sprayed mace into the crowd outside the Ferguson Police Department, and some in the crowd threw bottles and other objects toward police.
Officers then again called an unlawful assembly.
Many protesters stayed, and some said those who had been throwing items had already left.
Police moved into the crowd, forcing people out of the parking lot where they had assembled.
"Get back or you're going to jail. Move back," one officer said.
Some smashed glass as they left the area, to the disapproval of others in the crowd.
Authorities declared an unlawful assembly around 11:20 p.m. ET, and told the crowd to return to their homes.
Anyone who didn't leave was threatened with arrest.
Police said the declaration was made because of vandalism.
A police cruiser was flipped, vandalized, and torched Tuesday night outside Ferguson City Hall.
Police moved in with tear gas and armored vehicles just after 11 p.m. ET.
The increase in force may have come after Molotov cocktails were thrown at police outside of City Hall.
Another police car was vandalized Tuesday night.
Video shows the beginning of the fire as well as Molotov cocktails.
Some in the crowd of protesters threw bottles.
Tensions flared after authorities in Ferguson made at least two arrests Tuesday night.
A 20-year-old man who police believe was murdered early Tuesday morning in Ferguson has been identified.
Deandre I. Joshua of University City was found dead inside a car not far from where Michael Brown was killed in August. Police believe he was killed several hours before he was found around 9 a.m.
A medical examiner said he had one gunshot wound to the head. His killer apparently tried to burn his body; accelerant was found, and he had several burns, police said. The fire appeared to have gone out on its own.
Authorities found friends and family in the area who said they had been with Joshua Monday evening. The investigation remained ongoing.
Joshua was a friend of Dorian Johnson, who was walking with Michael Brown before he was killed.
Police have not suggested a motive for Joshua's death, and the St. Louis County police chief said it could be connected with Monday night's protests.
President Barack Obama spoke in Chicago Tuesday evening on immigration issues, but first addressed the situation in Ferguson.
Obama said there was "no excuse" for the destruction and violence that took place Monday night and added that "criminal acts" should be prosecuted.
"The frustrations people have generally — those are rooted in some hard truths that have to be addressed," the president acknowledged.
Obama said he would work with the people of Ferguson to move forward constructively, saying, "Your president will work with you."
He also noted, "The problem is not just a Ferguson problem, it is an American problem."
The president mentioned specific things that would be done to fix structural failures, such as training police properly, which he said "improves policing and makes people feel that the system is fair."
He also said that with Attorney General Eric Holder he would convene state and local officials, law enforcement, community officials, and faith leaders, to determine steps to take to make sure law enforcement is applied fairly everywhere.
A man was found dead inside a car Tuesday morning near where Michael Brown was shot in August. Police believe the man, who has not been identified, was murdered.
St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said no information was immediately available on the circumstances or cause of the man's death. But he said he could not rule out that it was related to the protests.
"At this point, I certainly couldn't discount that," he said.
Belmar spoke with Missouri State Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson Tuesday afternoon as more protests were expected. Both men said they would work to prevent a repeat of Monday night's property damage.
Still, Belmar said officers did the best they could as looting and arson took place over four square miles.
"I'm not sure there were mistakes," he said.
Police could foresee protests centering around the Ferguson Police Department, but he said he was surprised that much of the destruction took place on West Florissant.
"It's very difficult then to take a guess at where else we might have problems," he said.
He characterized Monday's destruction as the actions of a small group of people set on violence.
"They're taking advantage of the community," he said, "and individuals are taking advantage of Mr. Brown's life and legacy."
Johnson said he was sorry for what the Ferguson community endured Monday night.
"They woke up, and they were heartbroken," he said.
He added that officers did the best they could.
"You know that we did not let this happen," he said.
BuzzFeed News reached out to Library Director Scott Bonner for comment:
Libraries are famous for squeezing every dollar, making the most of what we have. This will greatly enhance our limited budget, opening up options to help the community, build more community-focused programming, and make some long-overdue updates to our offerings and infrastructure. I don't feel comfortable sharing how much we've received yet, in part because it just doesn't seem real yet, but I can say that over 2,000 people have donated, that the figure is 5 digits. What I hope is that I can hire a full-time children's/programming librarian because of these efforts. Right now, I'm the only full-time person at the library, so my capacity for handling programming is limited. With a second, specialized librarian, our power to help the people of Ferguson will increase many times over.
Gov. Jay Nixon announced the National Guard presence in the region would increase to 2,200 troops in a press conference with law enforcement leaders.
He ascribed Monday night's violence to "criminals intent on lawlessness and destruction."
"We must do better, and we will," he added.
On Monday, 700 guardsmen had been stationed at 100 locations around the region, he said. About 100 were called to the Ferguson Police Department late in the protests. The increase in forces will continue the mission to protect lives and property, he said.
He added that keeping West Florissant, the scene of a number of fires, shut down was an option. But he hoped to law enforcement would work to give locals the confidence to feel safe in their neighborhood again.
"That's our goal: Not to shut the place down," he said.
The Missouri State Highway Patrol's Col. Ronald Replogle added that Tuesday's protests and response would be different.
"Last night was a disaster," he said. "We will not have a repeat of last night's activities."
Protests continued Tuesday afternoon outside the Old Courthouse in St. Louis as well as other locations.
One group of protesters marched on Interstate 70.
Darren Wilson will give his first interview to ABC's George Stephanopoulos.
Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson has given his first, highly sought after interview to ABC News' George Stephanopoulos.
In a preview, Stephanopoulos told viewers the interview – which is scheduled to air on World News with David Muir Tuesday night and on Good Morning America and Nightline the following day – that Wilson "has a clean conscience over his actions that day."
Wilson, 28, has been in hiding since fatally shooting unarmed Michael Brown on Aug. 9. The interview, taped at an undisclosed location, was conducted following Monday night's announcement that a St. Louis County grand jury would not indict Wilson.
The news set off violent protests overnight in Ferguson, during which dozens of buildings and vehicles were burned. Storefronts were also looted and 82 people were arrested.
Stephanopoulos told viewers that Wilson told him he "does not think he could have done anything differently."
"He says he did what he was trained to do," Stephanopoulos said.
Several networks had reportedly been meeting with Wilson in an attempt to secure the highly coveted interview. In announcing the huge get, Stephanopoulos tweeted today that "no question was off limits."
Ferguson mayor says National Guard was delayed in responding, causing damage and injury:
Ferguson Mayor James Knowles said in a news conference Tuesday afternoon that the "National Guard was not deployed in enough time to save all of our businesses."
He called the delay "deeply concerning" and said he is asking Gov. Jay Nixon to deploy all resources to Ferguson as fast as possible to preserve life and property in Ferguson.
"We truly understand that the world is watching," Knowles said.
When asked if he requested more National Guard troops from Nixon before Monday evening, Knowles said the Ferguson police chief was "involved in some of those conversations[but]...was not the decision maker."
The troops were "under control by the unified command" -- the coalition of law-enforcement agents on the ground. Knowles said he reached out to political channels to no avail.
Knowles said his understanding is that the "National Guard would be held in reserve until the time they were needed...my understanding they would be deployed to maintain order and protect businesses, they were not."
"My understanding is they were available, they just weren't deployed," Knowles said, adding, "eventually those troops were deployed, unfortunately too late."
He also said he hasn't directly spoken with Nixon since late August.
Peaceful protests are ongoing in St. Louis.
Michael Brown Sr. appeared at a news conference with his lawyers and Rev. Al Sharpton, who criticized the grand jury process:
Civil rights leaders issued a strong rebuke Tuesday to the grand jury process that ultimately cleared a Ferguson police officer of any charges in the shooting death of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown.
"Last night, the appearance by the district attorney made it clear to everyone why we had little faith in a state prosecution," the Rev. Al Sharpton said at an afternoon news conference, referring to the announcement DA Robert McCulloch made to the press the night before describing why a grand jury decided to not indict Officer Darren Wilson.
"I've never seen a prosecutor hold a press conference to discredit the victim ... who could not defend himself," Mr. Sharpton said.
"Michael Brown Jr. is crying out from the grave with so many other thousands of people of color who have been killed by police," Sharpton said.
Describing the grand jury process as a "fixed fight" — mostly because it is a forum where only prosecutors present evidence and there's no place for cross-examination of witnesses — Brown family lawyer Benjamin Crump vowed "it ain't over."
McCulloch on Monday evening made public all evidence that was presented to the grand jury. That led Sharpton, Crump and family lawyer Anthony Gray to question how the evidence was presented and why McCulloch only mentioned certain witnesses during his announcement.
Sharpton said that McCulloch tried to "systematically" discredit witnesses who may still be needed in federal inquiries and possible civil legal actions.
"Didn't the [data dump] create more questions than anything?" Crump asked.
"We saw what was presented, but we didn't hear how it was presented. We didn't get to hear the inflections in the voices ... the cynicism and the sarcasm just jump off the page at you," Gray said, adding that he believed Wilson "indicted himself ... it's right there for us to see."
"This grand jury decision, we feel, is a direct reflection, of the sentiments of those who presented the evidence," Gray said.
Crump, at one point, said a "first-year law student would have done better job [than the prosecutor]."
When asked about Brown's mother, Lesley McSpadden, seen on video encouraging the protesters, Crump said, "Don't condemn [the parents] for being human."
Gov. Jay Nixon said there will be more National Guardsmen supporting law enforcement in the St. Louis region tonight. The Governor has been meeting this morning with Guard and law enforcement leaders to plan for the use of additional Guard resources to protect lives and property in Ferguson and the region.
"The violence we saw in areas of Ferguson last night is unacceptable," Gov. Nixon said. "That is why today I am meeting with leaders from the Guard and law enforcement to ensure the protection of lives and property."
Further details will be released this afternoon.
"While we work quickly and decisively to ensure that violence and destruction like we saw in Ferguson is not repeated, I also want to thank the thousands of Guardsmen and law enforcement officers who worked hard to keep the vast majority of the region free of violence and unrest last night," the Governor said.
Live video: Michael Brown's family is holding a news conference to discuss the grand jury's decision.
"Last night, the appearance by the district attorney made it clear to everyone why we had little faith in a state prosecution," Rev. Al Sharpton said. "I've never seen a prosecutor hold a press conference to discredit the victim."
Protesters in Chicago, reacting to Ferguson, are holding a sit-in at City Hall:
Various scenes from Ferguson, shot by BuzzFeed News reporter Jim Dalrymple:
An injury tally from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
Protests in Seattle, Washington:
Protests in Oakland, California:
Protests in Dellword, Missouri:
Protests in Ferguson, Missouri:
Here are the arrest totals as of Tuesday, Nov. 25, at 8:23 a.m. ET:
St. Louis City: * 21 arrests * 15 of those are felony charges, such as weapon possession, robbery, burning buildings * Six of those are for more minor, ordinance violations
St. Louis County, which includes Ferguson: * 61 arrests with the following main charges: * 29 of those for burglary in the second degree * One of those for unlawful possession of a firearm * One of those for assault on a law enforcement officer * Seven of those for unlawful assembly * Six of those for trespassing * 10 for receiving stolen property * Six for possession of stolen property * One for second-degree arson
Source: county spokesman, St. Louis City mayor
St. Louis mayor expects more protests this evening:
St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay said at a 6:30 a.m. CST news conference that 21 people were arrested in the city, and 15 of those arrests were for felony offenses such as weapons possession, robbery and burning buildings.
ABC News reported that the overall arrest total from St. Louis County, which includes Ferguson, was 61.
"We going to be prepared for this evening as well," Slay said, adding that police will intervene "much more quickly than we did last night."
In St. Louis, 21 windows smashed. Concerning last night's violence, he said, "I'm more than disappointed, I'm outraged by it."
St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson said that law enforcement authorities struggled to address both peaceful and law-breaking protesters at the same time.
"While organized protesters were distracting us, criminals were taking advantage," he said. On Tuesday evening, he said, if the groups divide "we have resources to handle that."
"What we saw last night was the criminals ... using the cover of the organized protest," he said. In Ferguson, "I think resources were overwhelmed ... which is why you saw the [National Guard] deploy."
Brown family attorney Benjamin Crump:
Michael Brown's mother "really had faith that the system would work for her child," Crump said on the Today Show, adding the was "absolutely shocked" Wilson wasn't charged with one crime.
A roundup of some front pages from around the nation:
The NYPD commissioner was splattered with fake blood in New York City at a protest last night.
The latest from BuzzFeed News' Jim Dalrymple II in Ferguson:
FERGUSON, Missouri — After a night of protests and chaos, the crowds in Ferguson dispersed early Tuesday morning. The smoke, not so much.
On South Florissant Boulevard, smoke first filled the air when police fired canisters into crowds. The canisters hissed and slithered between the feet of running protesters, then burst with an abrasive gas that felt like equal parts sandpaper and fatigue. Those who had gas masks hurried to put them on. Everyone else fled.
In the midst of it all, Ashley Bailey rushed onto the sidewalk with a group of other young women. "They're drawing their guns at him," she yelled, pointing at a heavily armored police officer, who was pointing an assault rifle at a car. As she watched the car creep backward, Bailey wiped away tears. "It's the gas," she said, before disappearing into the crowd.
The canister smoke gradually cleared, but the air over parts of Ferguson stayed thick with the fumes of burning cars and buildings. Several burned in the neighborhood near the police station, and others were sprinkled throughout the community.
The starkest devastation, however, was on West Florissant — the street that had been the epicenter of protests in August.
Paul Fletcher saw it begin.
Fletcher spent his evening guarding his friend's Asian restaurant. He told BuzzFeed News that soon after the announcement that Officer Darren Wilson wouldn't face charges for killing Michael Brown, a crowd descended on the street. Most attention at that point was still focused a couple miles away in downtown Ferguson, and as the crowd arrived people began ransacking businesses. Several burned and Fletcher recalled hearing numerous gunshots — an observation later backed up by other witness at the scene as well as police.
The crowd never made it inside the restaurant Fletcher was guarding. He said people tried to break through an already-boarded up window, but eventually moved on. When asked if he had weapons with him, he paused then gestured toward the restaurant. "We had a knife."
A couple hours later Fletcher was still standing outside, watching the smoke from at least four nearby structure fires spiral upward. It didn't quite smell like a campfire — there was just too much rubber and paint going up in flames.
Across the street, Kaye Mershon and Buffi Blanchard sat inside their barber shop, Clip Appeal — which Mershon owns — with several friends, watching cars burn on the late-night news. Clip Appeal weathered the protests in August, but Monday night it wasn't so lucky; the glass front door was smashed, as was a front window. Blanchard said someone had apparently thrown a Molotov cocktail through the window, and the floor was scuffed and charred. No one in the room seemed particularly surprised by what happened Monday, but then Blanchard paused.
"I didn't think," she added, "that they were going to burn this many businesses to the ground. To a crisp."
The Wall Street Journal's Ben Kesling is reporting that Ferguson fire department have been fighting 25 structural fires tonight.
As of just after 3:30 a.m. CT, firefighters were dealing with six structural fires, Kesling reported.
St. Louis County police chief: "What I’ve seen tonight is much worse than the worst night we had in August."
Law enforcement officials in Ferguson held a grim press conference early Tuesday morning after a night of turmoil characterized by clashes between police and protesters, looted businesses, and several buildings and police cars set aflame.
"What I've seen tonight is much worse than the worst night we had in August," St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar told reporters, referring to the protests immediately following Michael Brown's death. "I didn't see a lot of peaceful protest out there tonight."
Belmar said 29 protesters were arrested, about a dozen buildings burned, and he personally heard about 150 gunshots fired.
Flanked by Missouri Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson, Belmar said that there had been no loss of life. But Johnson said that the destruction of property would affect the area for years to come.
"If you go along West Florissant, those are dreams, those small business owners, and we've torn those dreams away," Johnson said. "We have definitely done something that's going to impact our community for a long time."
Belmar said he didn't think police could have prevented things from descending into chaos. "Unless we bring 10,000 policemen in here, I don't think we could prevent folks who are really just intent on destroying this community," Belmar said.
Despite the night's events, Belmar also said the police didn't intend to change their approach.
"I think we had a good plan. We have a good plan," Belmar said. "We're going to keep going with the same plan."
The Congressional Black Caucus denounces grand jury decision.
Members of the Congressional Black Caucus have come out in unison over a St. Louis County grand jury's decision not to indict a police officer in the shooting death of an unarmed 18-year-old.
More National Guardsmen are to be deployed in Ferguson, a statement from Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon said. The move is to "provide security at the Ferguson police department" and to "allow additional law enforcement officers to protect the public."
Most protesters had left the area, though police continued to receive reports of vandalism, arson, and other criminal activity.
For Protesters, No Justice, For Ferguson, No Peace
Protesters gathered in the middle of the street in front of the police station. They were silent so they could listen to the voice on the radio telling them what they already suspected: There would be no indictment of Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson.
The anger swelled within the crowd slowly. Some people stormed off down the street, heading away from the police station on South Florissant Boulevard. Others jumped into their vehicles, yelling out promises to "tear this motherfucker up." The rest tried to lead chants of "no justice, no peace" but found few willing to join the chorus.
There really wasn't much left to say.
For more than an hour, demonstrators paced back and forth in front of the police station, screaming curses at riot gear-clad officers who were standing behind a barrier.
Then came desperate pleas from an officer over a loudspeaker: "Stop throwing objects at police immediately or you will be subject to arrest." He said it over and over again. "Stop throwing rocks."
The officers then tried shooing the protesters out of the street and onto the sidewalk. If they didn't comply, police warned, there would be arrests.
It felt like those tense old evenings in August, days after Wilson had fatally shot 18-year-old Michael Brown in a much blacker and poorer neighborhood on the other side of town. Every few minutes, a loud series of pops — like gunshots or firecrackers — could be heard in the distance, sending people scampering in panic down the street. Then things would settle down again.
Finally, the police had enough. Flash grenades were fired into the crowd. As smoke filled the air, hundreds of demonstrators rushed in the other direction. "Fuck the police," they yelled as they retreated.
Next came the tear gas.
As people went north on South Florissant, away from the gas and smoke and advancing officers, some of them smashed out windows of stores that lined the street. The Boost Mobile Store. Ferguson Optical. UMB Bank. Someone lit a fire in a trash can and a crowd gathered around it, cheering on the rising flames.
For those who couldn't handle the tear gas or simply were scared of the unfolding chaos, they found refuge at Wellspring Church.
There were about 20 people inside, some praying, others watching a live stream of the events on the streets. F. Willis Johnson Jr., senior minister of the church, was tending to those who needed help and juggling media requests.
He hadn't planned on having too many visitors.
"This ain't like Sunday morning," he said. "You're not trying to pack the house."
But he eventually had to accept the inevitable: The people of Ferguson and the police aren't quite ready to make peace.
He said he'd be back in the church Tuesday morning. It went without saying that the sanctuary would be needed again.
A photo shows the current scene at the site of Michael Brown's shooting:
At least one person was injured in gunfire, according to reports.
Testimony given to the Michael Brown grand jury released.
St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch's office posted transcripts, photographs, and other evidence considered by the grand jury in the Wilson case. See it all here.
A beauty shop was seen engulfed in flames late Monday night after protesters apparently set fire to the business.
The Federal Aviation Administration issued flight restrictions for the St. Louis area on Monday night, specifically limiting low-flying aircraft after police reported gunshots into the air.
Police confirmed Monday night officers used tear gas against crowds of protesters.
In St. Louis, another group of protesters shut down a stretch of Interstate 44.
Fires continued to be set Monday night in Ferguson as crowds protested the lack of indictment in the Michael Brown case.
Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement Monday night that a federal investigation related to Brown's death is ongoing.
President Obama asks for calm in Ferguson as protesters confront police.
In the wake of the grand jury's decision not to indict Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson, President Obama appealed for peaceful protests and restraint on the part of law enforcement officers.
At a news briefing, Obama said he joined Michael Brown's family in asking for protestors to avoid violence and instead channel their energy to create constructive change.
"Michael Brown's parents have lost more than anyone; we should be honoring their decision," Obama said.
Obama also appealed for law enforcement officers in Ferguson to show restraint when dealing with protestors.
"They need to work with the community, not against the community, to distinguish the handful of people who may use this decision as an excuse for violence," Obama said. "From the vast majority who just want their voices to be heard on legitimate issues on how communities and law enforcement interact."
Even as they were said, though, Obama's words were lost on dozens of demonstrators who threw rocks and bricks at storefronts and police cars, smashing out windows as police attempted to disperse unruly crowds.
The issues in Ferguson are not unique to the city, Obama said. Despite enormous progress in race relations, there is still a deep distrust between people of color and law enforcement, he said.
While Obama said he doesn't believe it's the norm in the United States, many people of color believe the law too often discriminates against them.
"Communities of color aren't just making these problems up," Obama said.
And those issues, he added, need to be tackled head-on.
"That won't be done by throwing bottles, that won't be done by smashing car windows, that won't be done by using this as an excuse to vandalize property, and it certainly won't be done by hurting anybody," he said.
Police and reporters at the scene said there was some looting and vandalism Monday night.
Looting was reported at several businesses.
Sen. Claire McCaskill, who represents Missouri, released a statement Monday night.
Tensions quickly flared after no indictment was announced, and authorities moved in with tactical gear to clear protesters from a roadway.
When news that the Ferguson police officer who fatally shot her unarmed son, Michael Brown, would not be indicted reached Lesley McSpadden's ears Monday night, she erupted in tears and shouting.
According to a USA Today account of the scene, Brown's family attorneys were informed of the decision via a phone call from St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch shortly before his announcement.
One of them, Benjamin Crump, then relayed the news to Brown's family, who were awaiting word in a local hotel.
"The jury was not inclined to indict on any charges," Crump told McSpadden, adding that McCulloch "would be willing to meet with you all."
This set McSpadden off, USA Today reported.
"I do want to meet with him right now," she reportedly screamed. "What do you mean no indictment?!"
She then ran out of the hotel room as family members followed.
The announcement that officer Darren Wilson, who is white, would not be indicted set off a wave of violence in Ferguson, where crowds of hundreds of people had gathered prior to the news conference.
Aerial television footage showed blown-out windows on a police car as officers in riot gear moved in to control and disperse the crowds.
The violence erupted despite appeals for calm by local, state, and federal officials, including President Obama. Brown's family also issued a statement calling for calm.
St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch described evidence heard by the grand jury during a press conference Monday night and also offered his hope that such a tragedy would not happen again.
McCulloch said a number of witnesses contradicted themselves or the physical evidence. In reaching their decision, he said the grand jury had to balance the credibility of witnesses with the crime scene evidence as well as three independent autopsies.
"Physical evidence does not change because of public opinion or political agenda," he said.
With conflicting statements about the initial altercation between Brown and Wilson at the officer's police car, McCulloch pointed to blood and DNA. Brown's blood and DNA was found on the outside of the car, as well as inside the driver's door. His blood and DNA were also found on Wilson's upper-left thigh, his shirt collar, and his gun, McCulloch said.
Two shots were fired at the car, he said, one lodging inside the driver's door. The other bullet was not recovered, but it grazed Brown's hand.
McCulloch added that witnesses were conflicted about where Brown was when Wilson fired two series of shots, 10 in all. Blood was found 25 feet away from where Brown was fatally shot, apparently backing up testimony that Brown moved toward Wilson after initially running away.
"The duty of the grand jury is to separate fact from fiction," McCulloch said.
The 12 members of the grand jury, nine of whom were white and three of whom were black, met over 25 days and deliberated for two days, McCulloch said. The evidence included 70 hours of testimony from 60 witnesses, hours of recordings of media and law enforcement interviews as well as the review of three autopsies, photos, and expert opinions on blood, toxicology, and firearms.
Though the grand jury did not find probable cause that Wilson had committed a crime, McCulloch urged protesters to continue voicing their opinions.
"No young man should ever die," he said.
His office was sworn to uphold the law, he reminded a room of about 40 reporters.
"If the laws are not working, then we need to work to change them," he said.
He added he did not believe the grand jury's findings were influenced by Brown's race, in response to a reporter's question about black men being killed "with impunity."
"They're not being killed with impunity," McCulloch said. "We look at every case that comes through, whether they're black men or white men."
He hoped, however, that discussion of the issues raised by Brown's death would not fade away as in similar tragedies.
"It opens old wounds," he said, "and it gives us an opportunity to address those wounds."
A grand jury in Missouri has not indicted a Ferguson police officer who fatally shot unarmed teenager Michael Brown in August.
The St. Louis County grand jury has heard months of evidence concerning the confrontation between Brown, 18, who is black, and officer Darren Wilson, who is white. There has been a tense waiting period ahead of the decision for both officials and residents of Ferguson, many of whom expect demonstrations in the streets regardless of the outcome.
Brown's family issued a statement saying they were "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," the family said. "We need to work together to fix the system that allowed this to happen."
The August shooting set off months of protests, some resulting in clashes between police and demonstrators and looting of local stores. The unrest drew the attention of federal authorities, who opened their own investigation into the the shooting. The incident also sparked a national debate over race and policing and federal programs transferring military equipment to local law enforcement authorities.
Gov. Jay Nixon, who arrived in Ferguson on Monday, preemptively declared a state of emergency ahead of the grand jury's decision. In​ the buildup to a decision, police stockpiled weapons, merchants boarded up their stores, and people practiced forms of nonviolent protest.
Nixon has said that regardless of the outcome, "violence will not be tolerated."
In their statement Monday night, the Brown family also reiterated their appeals for calm.
"We respectfully ask that you please keep your protests peaceful. Answering violence with violence is not the appropriate reaction," the family said. "Let's not just make noise, let's make a difference."
The shooting took place on Aug. 9, when at 11:53 a.m. a police dispatcher radioed Wilson about a "stealing in progress," according to radio calls released by officials. Police have said that Wilson initially stopped Brown and a friend because they were walking in the street, before recognizing them as possible suspects in the robbery. Police also claim that a scuffle between Wilson and Brown ensued when Brown tried to take Wilson's service firearm.
At 12:02 p.m., Wilson radioed for another police car to assist. Around 12:03 p.m., a witness tweeted he'd seen someone die, suggesting the shooting already happened. Brown's body lay in the street for about four hours before it was removed, sparking outrage.
An autopsy conducted by St. Louis County medical examiners found that Brown was shot at close range at least twice, and that he had marijuana in his system. An autopsy commissioned by the family found that he sustained six total gunshot wounds, one to the top of the head.​
Witnesses at the scene said that Brown had his hands up as a sign of surrender to Wilson, but was shot anyway. That led to the widely used chant "hands up, don't shoot" during the protests. But a forensic expert, commenting on the county medical examiner's report, said that some of the evidence suggested Brown's hands were not up before the gun was fired.
Wilson's legal team issued a statement Monday night acknowledging that "many people will want to second-guess the grand jury's decision."
However, they said, "we would encourage anyone who wants to express an opinion do so in a respectful and peaceful manner."
"In a case of this magnitude, a team of prosecutors rightfully presented evidence to this St. Louis County grand jury. This group of citizens, drawn at random from the community, listened to witnesses and heard all the evidence in the case. Based on the evidence and witness testimony, the grand jury collectively determined there was no basis for criminal charges against Officer Wilson," the statement read.
The grand jury's decision did not have to be unanimous, with just nine of 12 members needing to find in favor of an indictment for one to be issued.
Critics have taken issue with the length of time it took the jury to hear the case and finish deliberations. But the decision by St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch to show all evidence related to the investigation – not just information that could lead to an indictment – drew out the process.
Since the session started on Aug. 20, all 12 jurors heard more than 73 hours of testimony from roughly 60 witnesses, McCulloch said Monday.
"They were extremely engaged in the process," he said.
They are, he noted, the only ones in the case who have heard and reviewed every piece of evidence in the case. Officials did not disclose how the vote broke down.
Those seeking insight into their decision-making process, however, will be left wanting, since grand jurors are barred by state law from discussing any details of the case, including deliberations.
The standard for indictment is lower than in criminal court, where jurors must determine guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, McCulloch's spokesman, Ed Magee, told the Washington Post. Instead, grand jurors only have to decide if there is enough evidence that a crime probably occurred.
McCulloch defended the jury, saying it was a "very emotional process" for the members, who had to put their lives on hold for weeks to hear the case.
"They poured their hearts in souls into this," he said.
Little has been released about their identities, but McCulloch said the jurors represented a wide cross-section of the community.
"Almost any demographic category you could come up with were represented on that jury," he said.
Tom Namako, Claudia Koerner, Adolfo Flores, Tasneem Nashrulla, Jason Wells, Stacy-Marie Ishmael, and Jon Passantino contributed to this report.