FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) — Business owners and residents boarded up windows and cleared away debris Wednesday as Ferguson sought a tentative return to normal after two nights of unrest over the grand jury decision in the Michael Brown case.
Protesters continued to hold scattered demonstrations, including a group that rushed into St. Louis City Hall screaming “Shame, shame.” Police locked down the building and called in more than a hundred extra officers. Three people were arrested.
About 200 demonstrators marched through downtown St. Louis and held a mock trial of Darren Wilson, the white police officer who shot and killed the unarmed Brown, who was black, during an Aug. 9 struggle.
An influx of guardsmen helped make Tuesday night much less tense, although there were still 58 arrests, and demonstrators in Ferguson set fire to a squad car and broke windows at City Hall.
On Wednesday, many residents hoped that the relative calm of the daylight hours would last through the night and into the Thanksgiving holiday.
A few hours after nightfall, National Guard troops with rifles were posted at intersections and in several parking lots in the area where stores were looted and burned Monday into Tuesday. But there were no protesters in sight.
Earlier in the day, about a dozen people painted over boarded-up windows on businesses in the St. Louis suburb’s historic downtown, where National Guardsmen were stationed every few feet and some looked down from rooftops.
“This is my Ferguson, you know?” said Kari Hobbs, 28, as she watched 17-year-old Molly Rogers paint “Love Will Win” in bright pink on a board that covered a smashed window at Cathy’s Kitchen, a restaurant not far from the Ferguson Police Department.
The footage people see on the news “is such a small bit of what’s happening here,” Hobbs said. “There’s so much donation and charity going on with the businesses that have been affected and the people that have been affected.”
There were no seats inside Cathy’s Kitchen on Wednesday, and a line had formed at the back of the building. As a light snow fell, a diverse mix of residents, business people with the day off and journalists covering the protests enjoyed a pre-Thanksgiving lunch.
Jerome Jenkins, who runs the restaurant with his wife, Cathy, said he never considered closing his doors.
“It really wasn’t about wondering if the building would get torched or not,” Jenkins said. “Me and my wife, we expected it to get damaged … we decided to go home, and we would live with whatever fate would give us.”
He said it was protesters who helped spare his business during Monday night’s chaos, when a dozen commercial buildings were burned to the ground.
“The criminals, the looters, whatever you want to call them: They’re not protesters. They wanted to vandalize the place,” Jenkins said. “And the protesters locked arms together, and they surrounded our place and … told them, ‘No, you’re not going to touch this place.'”
Since the grand jury’s decision was announced, demonstrators have been active in other cities throughout the U.S.
Most of the protests have been peaceful, with crowds rallying behind the refrain “hands up, don’t shoot.” But others have been more disruptive, including a demonstration in Oakland, California, in which protesters vandalized several businesses, one in Minneapolis in which a car struck a protester and drove into others. And in Portland, Oregon, police used pepper spray and made arrests after about 300 people interrupted bus and light rail traffic.
Also Wednesday, authorities said a 20-year-old man whose body was found inside a car in Ferguson after Monday night’s riots had been intentionally set on fire.
The death of Deandre Joshua of University City is being investigated as a homicide, but police have not said whether it’s connected to the violence that broke out after the grand jury announcement.
Joshua’s body was found Tuesday morning at the wheel of a car parked near the apartment complex where Brown was killed. An autopsy determined that he was shot once in the head.
Link to grand jury documents: http://hosted.ap.org/specials/interactives/_documents/ferguson-shooting/ .
Zagier reported from St. Louis. Associated Press writers Andale Gross, Jim Salter, Jim Suhr and Alex Sanz also contributed to this report.
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