Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Ferguson Tensions Flare After Michael Brown Memorial Burns
Building damaged in Ferguson after unrest flares again.
Casey Nolen, KSDK-TV, St. Louis 8:57 a.m. EDT
September 24, 2014

FERGUSON, Mo. – At least two protesters were arrested and some businesses were damaged Tuesday night after a memorial to Michael Brown was destroyed in a fire. The confrontation reignited tensions in the St. Louis suburb that was rocked by violence this summer after Brown, an unarmed teenager, was shot by a Ferguson police officer.

Police responded Tuesday evening to a reported break-in of a beauty supply store on West Florissant Avenue, according to multiple reports. Then several gunshots were heard and approximately 200 people gathered at the site where demonstrations were held following the Aug. 9 shooting of Michael Brown, 19, by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson.

St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar and Missouri State Police Capt. Ron Johnson arrived on the scene near Beauty Town, and police pulled back from the crowds, putting a parking lot between the two groups.

Recalling the violence and damage done to businesses by looters in the wake of the Brown shooting, workers at the Ferguson Market and Convenience store next door to the beauty supply boarded up its windows.

The county bomb and arson unit investigated a small fire at the nearby Whistle Stop Depot, a cafe in the old Ferguson train station. Firefighters on the scene said they smelled a strong gasoline odor.

Some protesters said they were in the streets because they makeshift memorial to Brown burned earlier in the day. Police said the fire is under investigation, but protesters said they believe it was set intentionally.

The fire started around 6:45 a.m. CT Tuesday on Canfield Drive, the street where Wilson killed Brown, said Capt. Jeremy Corcoran with the Ferguson police. The fire's cause is under investigation, and amid the debris was evidence that candles were used within the memorial.

Later Tuesday, residents later rebuilt the memorial. The blaze angered many people who live near the scene. One man said it was like a grave being desecrated.

Brown's death led to weeks of protest and unrest in the St. Louis suburb. After a month without an arrest, Brown's parents and activists questioned why Wilson had not been indicted in the killing.

At the time of the shooting, witnesses in the area said Brown had raised his hands to surrender as he was shot. A state grand jury and the U.S. Department of Justice are continuing to investigate.

Contributing: Brandie Piper, KSDK-TV, St. Louis and The Associated Press

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