FERGUSON, Mo. – Twenty-four hours after Ferguson, Mo., erupted in a spasm of violence and looting when a grand jury refused to indict a white police officer in the killing of an unarmed black man, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said Tuesday night’s unrest was far less intense.
The worst damage of the night was at City Hall, where “rioters” broke windows and badly damaged a police car, he said. Officers confiscated a Molotov cocktail and unleashed tear gas.
“That was the only place we deployed tear gas this evening,” Belmar said.
Officers confiscated two pistols Tuesday night, including a 9mm semi-automatic, and made 44 arrests, mostly for failure to disperse, he said. They made four felony arrests – one for unauthorized use of a weapon, and three for assaults on police officers.
Rocks, bottles, tent poles, pieces of asphalt and bottles filled with what appeared to be urine were among the items thrown at officers, Belmar said, displaying some of them to the media.
There was some vandalism on South Florissant, south of the Ferguson police headquarters, he said.
Still, Tuesday was a vast improvement over Monday, Belmar and Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson agreed.
“We saw some protesters who were out there for the right reasons,” Belmar said.
Johnson said he had heard from several people in the community who were appalled at what had happened on Monday.
“None of us could have imagined last night was going to be what it was,” he said. “We could never have imagined that. … If you look through the recent history of our country, you don’t see anything like this.”
Johnson said authorities “got some help from our community today” to improve the situation. “We’re all on the same page to make our community whole,” he said.
The City hall events Belmar referred to began shortly before 10 p.m., when protesters marched from the Ferguson police headquarters to nearby City Hall. Two men banged on the front door, screaming, “We want answers!”
People started throwing bricks through the windows. They surrounded an empty police car parked in front, rocking it back and forth, smashing all its windows and setting it afire.
Gunfire sounded; several Red Cross officials nearby said the police ammunition in the car had ignited.
An angry man stormed out of a neighboring apartment house and began shouting at the crowd.
“This isn’t a goddamn gas station or a pizza shop,” he said. “This is my house!”