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Tensions Ease on Thanksgiving in Ferguson

Calm in Ferguson, Protests Elsewhere
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Calm in Ferguson, Protests Elsewhere

Tensions appeared to ease Thursday in the U.S. midwestern town of Ferguson, Missouri, after two nights of violence and looting following a grand jury decision not to prosecute a white police officer in the death of a black teenager.

Snow covered the city's streets Thursday, rather than protesters. The Missouri National Guard stood at the police station with no confrontations.

But around the country, there were scattered protests from Los Angeles, where 100 people were arrested, to Oakland and New York City. Demonstrators even marched across the Atlantic in London.

The New York protests took place a block from the iconic Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, where seven people were detained for pushing through barricades to disrupt the festivities.

Late Wednesday, Ferguson saw only scattered protests after two previous nights of unrest and rioting that left dozens of buildings damaged or burned. The unrest followed Monday's announcement that a white police officer will not be prosecuted over the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager.

A heavy police presence, snowy weather, and Thursday's Thanksgiving holiday may have helped to shrink the crowds by Wednesday night.

Earlier, 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.

Earlier this week, a grand jury decided there was no probable cause to indict Wilson, who said he feared for his life during the confrontation with Brown. Wilson told reporters Tuesday that he has a clean conscience "because I know I did my job right."

Protesters across the country have used the case to highlight similar instances in which they say laws are not applied fairly towards African Americans. In Los Angeles and Oakland, California, police arrested dozens of people for a variety of protest-related charges -- but no significant violence was reported.

One of those cases gaining recent attention is that of 12-year-old Tamir Wilson, who was shot and killed by police in a park on Sunday in the city of Cleveland.

On Wednesday, police released surveillance video showing that the child, who was holding a toy pellet gun, was shot within one to two seconds of police arriving at the scene. Officials say that the child ignored repeated police demands to put his hands in the air.

A prosecutor is now deciding whether to pursue criminal charges against the officer in that case.

VOA's Carolyn Presutti contributed reporting.

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