FERGUSON: Despite the torching of a police car and scores of arrests, police said early Wednesday that a second night of protests was “much better” than the arson and widespread violence that initially rocked the city following a grand jury decision in the police shooting of an unarmed black teenager.
The presence of hundreds of additional National Guard troops appeared to help contain the unrest, despite a series of tense confrontations.
It was “generally a much better night,” St. Louis police chief Jon Belmar said at an early morning news conference. He reported that 44 people had been arrested Tuesday night.
There were still clashes, however, as officers used some tear gas and pepper spray, and demonstrators set a squad car on fire and broke windows at City Hall.
Protesters poured into the streets for a second night following a grand jury’s decision not to indict a police officer for shooting 18-year-old Michael Brown.
It also came as Darren Wilson, the 28-year-old white police officer at the center of the case, made his first public comments, before he fired the fatal shots, the unarmed teenager “grabbed my gun, and he charged me, and he was going to kill me.”
The reason I have a clear conscience is I know I did my job right,” Wilson said.
Confrontations Tuesday night were marked with exchanges between police and protesters, with lines of officers firing what looked and smelled like tear gas at unruly protesters and demonstrators tossing the projectiles back at police.
Police used loudspeakers to order protesters and media off Florissant Road or face arrest. They announced, “This is an unlawful assembly,” prompting much of the crowd to disperse.
A single protester dropped to her knees in the road in front of two police trucks. She was picked up by police.
At least four people, one of them a woman, were detained while protesting in front of the Ferguson Police Department. It was unclear if they were being charged. Several flaming objects were hurled at police.