FERGUSON, Mo. — Protests continued Monday night in Ferguson, Mo. with activities turning violent, including the shooting of two rioters.
Monday marked the first night the curfew imposed by Gov. Jay Nixon on Friday was lifted in the inflamed community. The protests were peaceful in the beginning with around 500 people walking up and down West Florissant Avenue. (RELATED: Monday Brings Protests To Ferguson, Two Arrested)
Police refused to let protesters gather at one spot. Eventually, the group spilled into the streets and began heading toward the Quik Trip, the site of repeated protests, vandalism and looting. It went all the way to the Mobil station at the corner of Florissant and Chambers Road.
The chants of “hands up, don’t shoot” and “justice” soon turned to “fuck the police” as the crowd size swelled. A minor verbal altercation broke out at the Mobil station where police were set up. (REPORTING FROM FERGUSON: Photos Of Monday’s Violent Clashes)
The group made a return pass to the corner of Florissant and Ferguson. It was here protesters began to clash with police.
Several protesters became angry and began shouting obscenities at the police. Community leaders and ministers formed a human chain in an attempt to separate the two parties.
Protesters refused to move as police told them that by standing still they were “unlawfully assembled.” Ministers tried to move the crowd along, but to no avail. After around 45 minutes, the protests turned to riots, with street signs torn out of the ground and objects thrown at the officers.
Police responded by launching tear gas and stun grenades into the crowd. Rioters retaliated with Molotov cocktails. One business caught fire. Capt. Ron Johnson said later in a press conference that an unoccupied residence also caught fire.
While the bedlam at Quik Trip was happening, more protesters gathered at the corner of Ferguson and Florissant. A shooting took place between rioters and police officers at the Quik Trip and the officers at Ferguson and Florissant decided to remove everyone from the area. They began arresting everyone who wasn’t media.
Johnson said officers came under heavy fire near the media pen on Florissant and Ferguson, but no one was hit. Two separate shootings between rioters took place, with two confirmed gunshot wounds. No police were shot. Thirty-one were arrested, and four officers were injured when they were struck with thrown objects. Officers also confiscated two handguns.
A visibly angry Johnson changed his tone from his usual calm demeanor in his press conference early Tuesday morning.
“This nation is watching each and every one of us,” said Johnson. “I am not going to let the criminals that have come here from across this country, or live in this neighborhood, define this community.”