Following a period of relative calm in Ferguson, Missouri, after the state Highway Patrol took over security operations in the St. Louis suburb, armored vehicles returned to the streets early Saturday as riot police faced off with protesters and even fired some tear gas. Protests began peacefully Friday night, but shortly before midnight a small group of people broke into the small store Michael Brown had been accused of robbing hours earlier and began looting. Some protesters allegedly pushed back against the looters and eventually about a dozen people helped to protect the store, according to the Associated Press.
Other stores were reportedly robbed throughout the early hours of the morning, and the militarized police made a comeback. Groups of officers dressed in riot gear emerged and threw a tear gas canister at a crowd, according to Reuters. But police took a decidedly hands-off approach as they did not move to protect any of the businesses or arrest any of the looters. Some of the protesters began throwing bottles and rocks at the police, and three officers were reportedly injured. The calm returned to Ferguson streets by around 4 a.m., after some protesters blocked entrances to businesses and key civic leaders arrived on the scene, reports the St. Louis Post Dispatch.
The violent protests came after a day in which public anger against authorities increased, after police said Brown was suspected of stealing cigars. But later the police said the officer who shot Brown did not know he was a suspect in a robbery. The Brown family was angry at the release of the surveillance tape that appeared to show Brown shoving a store clerk. “There is nothing based on the facts that have been placed before us that can justify the execution style murder of their child by this police officer as he held his hands up, which is the universal sign of surrender,” Brown’s family said in a statement, according to NBC News.