Armored vehicles rolled back onto the streets of Ferguson early Saturday, as riot police faced off with looters in the Missouri town gripped by protests since the fatal police shooting of an unarmed black teen.
The violence broke the brief period of calm that had settled over Ferguson, Missouri, after outrage over the shooting of Michael Brown spilled over.
Protests had started off peacefully in Ferguson on Friday night. Rev. Jesse Jackson linked arms with protesters, leading them in prayer and urging them to "turn pain into power" while fighting back non-violently, NBC Affiliate KSDK reported. Shortly after midnight, crowds got rowdier and looting began to break out, according to KSDK.
Missouri State Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson confirmed that there was looting overnight at a convenience store where police said Brown was suspected of stealing cigars.
"There were 300 protesters last night, but the protesters went home and the looters came out," Johnson said.
Tear gas was deployed and riot police moved in, with some locals forming lines to protect local businesses from looters. Three officers were injured overnight, with Johnson telling The Associated Press that rocks and other objects were thrown at police.
The violent scenes came as public anger flared again on Friday after police sought to clarify what happened in the moments before an officer shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown.
For days, police had refused to release the name of the officer who shot Brown but on Friday he was identified as Darren Wilson, a four-year veteran of the force in Ferguson, Missouri.
Anger also mounted after police also revealed that Brown was suspected of stealing a box of cigars from a convenience store and assaulting a clerk minutes before he was shot to death.
But Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson said later in the day Friday that Wilson did not know Brown was a suspect when he stopped Brown and a friend. Asked why they were stopped, the chief said: "Because they were walking down the middle of the street blocking traffic."
The release of a surveillance tape appearing to show Brown engaging in an altercation with the store clerk infuriated Brown's family, which said that the police were trying to smear the teenager's name and justify a "brutal assassination" in broad daylight.
A lawyer for the family, Anthony Gray, accused the police chief of inciting the community. If there is further violence, he said, "it won't be on anybody on this side."
"Don't take that bait and begin to riot," he said.
The family said in a statement: "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."
A day earlier, Ferguson had experienced its first relatively calm night in almost a week. The Highway Patrol had taken command of policing, and officers marched down the streets with protesters. There were demonstrations Friday night but no reports of arrests that had marred protests earlier in the week.
People in Ferguson Friday questioned why police had waited so long to disclose the robbery, and they said there was still no explanation for why the officer shot and killed the teenager.
Scenes earlier this week of officers in military-style gear atop armored vehicles and training guns on protesters sparked a national outrage.
By Thursday, President Barack Obama weighed in, encouraging calm among both the protesters and the police, and Gov. Jay Nixon ordered the Highway Patrol to take over security.
The man in charge for the Highway Patrol, Capt. Ron Johnson, spoke glowingly on Friday of how things had calmed down because of simple communication between law enforcement and the public.
Photo Gallery: Anger Reignited in Ferguson
First published August 16 2014, 1:05 AM