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Protests Continue in Ferguson, Spread to Other US Cities


Efforts Underway to Reduce Confrontations Between Police and Young African Americans
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Protesters have taken to the streets for a third day over a U.S. grand jury's decision not to indict a white police officer in the death of an unarmed black teenager in the midwestern city of Ferguson, Missouri.

Hundreds of people demonstrated in front of the St. Louis City Hall on Wednesday, chanting “Shame, Shame.” Police arrested three people for failing to disperse, including one who also faces an assault charge.

The August shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown by officer Darren Wilson inflamed tensions in Ferguson and raised concerns about police violence and racial discrimination in the mostly black St. Louis suburb.

Ferguson police on Wednesday raised the arrest total from the second night of protests to 58. Thirteen people were arrested at protests in St. Louis Tuesday night.

Protesters marched through New York City's Times Square and the historically black neighborhood of Harlem, and attempted to block bridges and tunnels leading into the city. Police used pepper spray to control crowds.

Ferguson protest in Washington DC
Ferguson protest in Washington DC

In Oakland, California, protesters stopped traffic on a major highway, and in Atlanta, Georgia, police arrested 21 protesters who were blocking traffic. Police used pepper spray on marchers in Denver, Colorado and Portland, Oregon.

More than 2,000 National Guard soldiers were deployed Tuesday night in Ferguson to guard against fresh violence. Riots broke out there Monday after the announcement charges would not be filed against officer Darren Wilson.

National Guard troops

VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem, reporting from Ferguson, said there was no repeat of looting and arson that was seen on the first night of protests.

"One reason is that the National Guard is spread out in multiple locations," Tanzeem said.

"We saw them outside the police department. They were behind the police lines. They were not in front, but they were in riot gear and in riot formation and in front of them was a united command riot formation. But they are scattered all over and guarding key areas in Ferguson and surrounding counties," she said.

A tense moment occurred late Tuesday, when protesters smashed the windows of a police car and set it fire in front of Ferguson City Hall.

Tanzeem said a large number of riot police and National Guard troops approached the area in armored vehicles and ordered the protesters to disperse.

"They started announcing that everyone needs to leave the area right now. At that moment somebody, we don't even know if it was the police, somebody in the crowd threw pepper spray on a whole bunch of people, including on our own VOA colleague, who got pepper sprayed pretty badly. We had to immediately find medics and evacuate him and move him to safety," Tanzeem said.

Police declared the gathering to be illegal and warned that those refusing to leave would be arrested. The area was cleared within half an hour.

Dozens of arrests

St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar confirmed that there were no other instances of major unrest. But he said that 44 people were arrested Tuesday night, adding to the 61 that were arrested Monday night.

VOA's Vietnamese service reported that at least one Vietnamese-owned building was burned down, resulting in thousands of dollars in damage.

A local Vietnamese community leader, Nguyen The Cuong, told VOA that some Vietnamese business owners in Ferguson and St. Louis have closed because of the unrest.