Ferguson returning to normal as rest of US experiences peaceful protests

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Residents of Ferguson sought a return to normal as business owners boarded up broken windows and cleared away debris following unrest.

Protesters continued to hold scattered demonstrations on Wednesday night over a grand jury’s decision not to indict a police officer over the shooting death of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown, including a group that rushed into City Hall in St Louis screaming “Shame, shame”.

Police locked down the building, in the city neighbouring Ferguson in Missouri, and called in more than 100 extra officers. Three people were arrested. About 200 demonstrators also marched through St Louis city centre and held a mock trial of Darren Wilson, the white police officer who shot and killed the 18-year-old during a struggle on August 9.

Around the US, most of the protests were peaceful, but others were more unruly, including a demonstration in Oakland, California, in which protesters vandalised several businesses and in Los Angeles, where police arrested dozens of demonstrators who refused to disperse after disrupting traffic.

In Portland, Oregon, police used pepper spray and made arrests after about 300 people interrupted bus and rail traffic.

The racially charged case has stoked passions nationwide, triggering debates over the relationship between black communities and law enforcement. Since the grand jury’s decision was announced on Monday night, protesters in cities throughout the country have rallied behind the refrain “hands up, don’t shoot”, and drawn attention to other police killings.

In New York City yesterday, Mr Brown’s parents joined the families of two other black men who were unarmed when they died at the hands of police.

The families joined arms with civil rights leader Al Sharpton and prayed for justice at the Harlem headquarters of Mr Sharpton’s organisation, the National Action Network.

As the tension in Ferguson eased somewhat, Mr Wilson broke his long public silence, insisting on national television that he could not have done anything differently during the confrontation. The officer testified during the grand jury hearings that he felt threatened and that Mr Brown tried to grab his gun, something the Brown family has said they do not believe.

Many residents of Ferguson said they hope the relative calm of yesterday will last through into today’s Thanksgiving holiday.