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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Businesses Damaged, Protesters Arrested in Ferguson After Michael Brown Memorial Burns

Posted By on Wed, Sep 24, 2014 at 9:30 AM

click to enlarge The day after Michael Brown died, supporters had already built the memorial near the spot where he was killed. Tuesday, the memorial went up in flames. - JESSICA LUSSENHOP
  • Jessica Lussenhop
  • The day after Michael Brown died, supporters had already built the memorial near the spot where he was killed. Tuesday, the memorial went up in flames.

Two Ferguson businesses were damaged in late-night protests on Tuesday, the day the memorial where Michael Brown died caught fire.

During the renewed protests, the window at Beauty Town, a beauty-supply store, was smashed, and police put out a small fire at the Whistle Stop, a custard shop. Firefighters on the scene told media the fire appeared to be intentionally set, and St. Louis County's bomb and arson unit is investigating.

Update, 11 a.m.: Missouri Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson says two officers were injured during last night's unrest. One officer was hit by a rock centimeters below his eyebrow.

"He could have awakened this morning blind from the rock that hit him," Johnson said. He also said the decision not to use riot gear last night put officers in danger.

A Molotov cocktail was thrown and shots were fired, and Johnson said he could see the flash coming from the muzzle of a gun.

"This agenda for peace, this agenda to make our community better takes us all," Johnson said. "We cannot have nights like last night. We cannot have actions like last night that can result in injury or death. Those will not be tolerated."

Johnson said the officers securing Ferguson don't deserve to be fired on or to have rocks hurled at them.

"If you look at their faces...we're brave men and women, but that's fear, because now you realize that could have been the time I don't get to go home."

Our original story continues below.

Police arrested five protesters while clearing West Florissant Avenue, where the crowd swelled to about 200 people around 10:30 p.m.

This is the third time Beauty Town has been broken into since protests in Ferguson started last month, manager Juan Santos told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The window that was smashed last night had just been replaced a week ago, costing Santos $1,300.

The newest wave of unrest came the night after a memorial to Brown -- an impromptu remembrance made of teddy bears, balloons, signs, shirts, candles and other mementos -- burned to ashes early Tuesday morning, igniting fresh anger and grief over Brown's death.

click to enlarge The fire at Michael Brown's memorial. - COURTESY MARKESE MULL
  • Courtesy Markese Mull
  • The fire at Michael Brown's memorial.

Authorities say they're not yet sure whether the fire was intentionally set or an accident.

See also: Michael Brown Memorial on Canfield Drive Burns to Ashes in Early Morning Blaze

But the tensions that boiled over Tuesday night started days before the fire, said Ferguson Township Committeewoman Patricia Bynes.

"I know that tensions were already high when the indictment date was pushed back," Bynes told St. Louis Public Radio, referring to the criminal case against Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, who shot and killed Brown on August 9. Wilson's case is before a grand jury, which has until January to decide whether or not to charge him with a crime in Brown's death. The jury was originally scheduled to finish its service weeks ago.

See also: Grand Jury Gets Until January to Decide on Michael Brown Shooting

"But that fire this morning really pushed too many people over the edge.... So now, we're back at this physical confrontation stage," Bynes told St. Louis Public Radio.

Follow Lindsay Toler on Twitter at @StLouisLindsay. E-mail the author at Lindsay.Toler@RiverfrontTimes.com.

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