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Ferguson: Anger on streets after killer officer avoids facing trial

By Staff Reporter

Protesters in Missouri overturned barricades and swarmed the steps of the St Louis federal court in a second day of protests after a grand jury decided a white police officer should not face trial for the killing of an unarmed black 18-year-old.

About 300 people marched from a park to the court and remained there for about 30 minutes before leaving. They chanted: "You didn't indict. We shall fight."

It was one of several protests in the St Louis area yesterday over the decision not to indict officer Darren Wilson for killing Michael Brown on August 9.

The decision means Wilson will not face any state criminal charges in the shooting, and reignited debates over relations between police and minority communities, even in cities far from the suburb of Ferguson.

In Ferguson, smoke billowed from burned-out businesses and glass littered the pavements in front of shops whose display windows were smashed during protests.

The destruction appeared to be much worse than protests that erupted after Brown's death, with more than a dozen businesses badly damaged or destroyed. Authorities reported hearing hundreds of gunshots, which for a time prevented fire crews from fighting the flames.

The violence erupted despite pleas for calm from the Brown family and President Barack Obama, who tried to strike a middle ground as he addressed the tensions.

America's first black president said the case demonstrated how a legacy of racial discrimination has fed distrust between law enforcement and minorities. Ferguson mayor James Knowles criticised what he said was the delayed deployment of the National Guard as the protests broke out. Missouri governor Jay Nixon ordered additional members from the military reserve force to the suburb.

Wilson's lawyers issued a statement praising the grand jury's decision. "Law enforcement personnel must frequently make split-second and difficult decisions," the lawyers said. "Officer Wilson followed his training and followed the law."

Civil rights activist Reverend Al Sharpton has said the case renewed a nationwide fight for greater police accountability.

"This is not a Ferguson problem... this is a problem all over the country," he said.

"We may have lost one round but the fight is not over."

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