Ferguson, Missouri cleans up after night of riots following grand jury decision

Posted at 9:04 AM, Nov 25, 2014

Day breaks, and the fires smolder.

A grand jury decision not to indict Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown was followed by a night of violent protests, looting and arson. A dozen buildings and an unknown number of cars were burned. 

"Burn this (expletive) down!" said Michael Brown's stepfather, Louis Head, while standing above a crowd after the decision.

St. Louis police responded with tear gas, riot gear and armored vehicles. At least 61 were arrested, according to the Associated Press. Some flights to St. Louis were diverted due to gunfire.

"I'm disappointed in this evening," said St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar.

Benjamin Crump, an attorney for Brown's family, criticized the prosecution Tuesday for not aggressively examining Wilson. He said a special prosecutor should have been appointed due to a conflict of interest.

“We are not insane. We know that our children deserve equal justice,“ Crump said.

He called for every police officer to be equipped with a body camera.

St. Louis County prosecutor Robert P. McCulloch said when revealing the grand jury decision Monday that physical evidence showed Michael Brown was charging at officer Wilson when he was shot.

That contradicted some eyewitness testimony that Brown was surrendering. Presented with physical evidence, he said some eyewitness accounts then changed.

"The duty of the grand jury is to separate fact from fiction," McCulloch said. "They determined that no probable cause exists to file any charge against officer Wilson."

That Wilson shot Brown to death was not in question. The issue before the grand jury was if lethal force was justified for the police officer.

The rioting began as President Barack Obama was addressing the nation from the White House, in which he called on protesters to refrain from violence. He also said the Ferguson case exposed deep racial issues.

"This isn't just an issue for Ferguson, this is an issue for America," Obama said.

CNN reports that Wilson was in talks to resign.

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Gavin Stern is a national digital producer for the Scripps National Desk. Follow him on twitter at @GavinStern or email him at gavin.stern@scripps.com.