FERGUSON, Missouri — On West Florissant Avenue, at the center of the racial tension gripping this St. Louis suburb following the police shooting of unarmed teen Michael Brown, there were few police officers and no sign of any National Guardsmen on Monday morning. Scattered groups of people were on the street, many of them cleaning up the debris from chaos overnight.
Small business owner Nicole Brock-Williams, 42, was helping clean up. "I'm speechless," she told NBC News while surveying the aftermath. "To watch all of this unfold, to see what happened, it's too much for our children. This is all they see. All they hear."
More violence erupted Sunday even before an curfew was scheduled to begin, with police reporting a shooting at 8:25 p.m. local time. Missouri State Police captain Ron Johnson also said that gunshots and Molotov cocktails were targeted at police officers. Johnson said police "deployed tear gas in an attempt to disperse the crowd."
Jane Walker, 52, a special education administrator from the area, blamed law enforcement for escalating the tensions Sunday night. "Personally, I believe the police presence was too early. When they came, the atmosphere changed. Then tension began to build."
Dellena Jones, owner of 911 Hair Salon, was at her shop with her daughters, aged 16 and 10, when rocks crashed through the window Sunday night. "My children were traumatized. It is very devastating. My clients are scared to come."
— Rick Brown in Ferguson, and Hasani Gittens in New York City
First published August 18 2014, 10:54 AM