FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) — Anger spurred by the death of a black teenager at the hands of a white police officer boiled over again when protesters stormed into a Missouri convenience store — the same one Michael Brown was accused of robbing.
Police and about 200 protesters clashed in Ferguson, Missouri, late Friday after another tense day in the St. Louis suburb that began with authorities identifying the officer who fatally shot Brown as 28-year-old Darren Wilson. At the same time, Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson released documents alleging Brown had stolen a $48.99 box of cigars from the convenience store and strong-armed a man on his way out.
Just before midnight, some in what had been a large, rowdy but mostly peaceful crowd broke into that same small store, Ferguson Market & Liquor, and began looting it, Missouri State Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson said. Some protesters yelled at the aggressors to stop what they were doing, and about a dozen people eventually helped protect the convenience store.
Teams of police officers holding rifles and dressed in riot gear used their cars to block a one-mile stretch of West Florissant Avenue, the street at the center of the protests. Occasional firecrackers sounded in the distance.
Some in the crowd began throwing rocks and other objects at police, Johnson said. One officer was hurt; details were not immediately available. Johnson said police backed off to try and ease the tension. No arrests were made.
“We had to evaluate the security of the officers there and also the rioters,” Johnson said. “We just felt it was better to move back.”
Johnson said he believed other stores were hit by looters. The crowd that had surrounded the convenience store dispersed but continued north. Two men in white undershirts threw debris through the windows of a liquor store and could be seen walking through the store as an alarm wailed.
Brown’s death had previously ignited four days of clashes with furious protesters. Tensions eased Thursday after Gov. Jay Nixon turned oversight of the protests over to the Missouri Highway Patrol. Gone were the police in riot gear and armored vehicles, replaced by the new patrol commander who personally walked through the streets with demonstrators. But Friday night marked a resurgence of the unrest that had momentarily abated.
Local officers faced strong criticism earlier in the week for their use of tear gas and rubber bullets against protesters. Johnson said one tear gas canister was deployed Friday night after the group of rioters became unruly.
Jackson’s decision to spell out the allegations that Brown committed the robbery, and his releasing of surveillance video, angered Brown’s family and many in the community.