FERGUSON, Mo. — Another intense night of violence bubbled up on Sunday in Ferguson, Mo. just a few hours after local and national luminaries including Al Sharpton and Martin Luther King III spoke at Greater Grace Church about last week’s police shooting death of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown.
The violence began around 8 p.m. and largely dissipated within a couple hours, though the police presence in the St. Louis suburb remained at war-like levels into the wee hours of the morning.
Hundreds — perhaps thousands — of protesters roamed West Florissant Avenue.
Looters prowled several blocks of the main thoroughfare, damaging businesses and shattering glass in the few storefronts that had yet remained intact.
The list of businesses on West Florissant that were looted on Sunday night included a Domino’s Pizza, a Papa John’s Pizza, an O’Reilly’s Auto Parts and a Public Storage facility.
Just west, on Chambers Road, a large group of looters trashed a small store called Dellwood Market. The store ended up on fire, according to a Facebook page called Ferguson Scanner Updates.
“I know that people are upset, but is this the justice for Mike Brown?” the distraught owner asked, according to local CBS affiliate KMOV.
In front of Dellwood Market, a huge two-car wreck somehow occurred amid bumper-to-bumper traffic on Chambers. One vehicle was destroyed, the other nearly so. People who witnessed the wreck told The Daily Caller no one was seriously injured.
The vehicles sat blocking traffic for a long time despite the large police presence just a few hundred feet away.
At a press conference that occurred at around 1 a.m. in the heavily-guarded confines of a Target parking lot over a mile away, Missouri State Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson indicated that several protesters threw Molotov cocktails during a march down West Florissant at around 8:30 p.m.
A handful of protesters suffered gunshot wounds and the crowds prevented an ambulance from arriving on the scene.
A large group of people had overrun a McDonald’s on the street. Employees of the McDonald’s were forced to lock themselves in a storage room until police arrived.
Johnson said that these various incidents of violence caused police to disperse tear gas at protesters and shut down several city blocks well before the 12 a.m. curfew that has been in effect for the last few days.
The closure strategy was a two-pronged pincer movement on two ends of West Florissant Ave. As police drove SWAT-type vehicles toward each other, hundreds of people walked down the sidewalk on either side. Scores of them wore surgical masks that had been distributed by some mysterious benefactor. Other protesters cruised in cars — some of them stopped in the middle of the street.
The tear gas caused protesters to desert the street virtually entirely by about 10:30 p.m.
A large group of police in riot gear had taken over the concrete lot in front of a Mobil station at the corner of West Florissant and Chambers for several hours by this time.
A group of several dozen protesters vented for over an hour at the cops, who were standing in a line, wearing riot gear and bearing rifles, batons and shields. Refrains of “No justice, no peace” and “Hands up, don’t shoot” were constant.
As the 12 a.m. curfew loomed, a policeman came over a loudspeaker, ordering the protesters to scatter. The script was: “Please assist us in helping you by going to your cars and homes.” These words were accompanied by an occasional piercing, blaring siren sound.
Other officers told journalists to get behind the police line.
Johnson, the Missouri State Highway Patrol captain, said during the 1 a.m. press conference that the National Guard would not be called to restore order to Ferguson.
However, shortly after the press conference, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon ordered National Guard troops onto the suburban St. Louis streets, according to NBC News.
“Tonight, a day of hope, prayers, and peaceful protests was marred by the violent criminal acts of an organized and growing number of individuals, many from outside the community and state, whose actions are putting the residents and businesses of Ferguson at risk,” the Democrat said in a statement. “Given these deliberate, coordinated and intensifying violent attacks on lives and property in Ferguson, I am directing the highly capable men and women of the Missouri National Guard to assist … in restoring peace and order to this community.”