PROTESTS spread across the United States on Tuesday night and more than 2,000 National Guard troops were deployed in the St Louis area to prevent a second night of rioting and looting after a grand jury declined to indict a white policeman in the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager.
President Barack Obama appealed for dialogue, and his attorney general promised that a federal probe into the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown in August would be timely and rigorous, even as officer Darren Wilson, the policeman who shot him, said his conscience was clear.
Despite the beefed up military presence in Ferguson, a police car was torched near City Hall as darkness fell, and police fired smoke bombs and tear gas to scatter protesters.
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Elsewhere in the city, protests were smaller and more controlled than on Monday.
The killing in Ferguson, a predominantly black city with a white-dominated power structure, underscored the occasionally tense nature of US race relations and sometimes strained ties between African-American communities and the police.
Monday’s racially-charged protests were more intense than the unrest that followed the shooting itself, though were much smaller than the widespread rioting and looting that came after the acquittal of police officers in the beating of black motorist Rodney King in Los Angeles two decades ago.
In Ferguson, about a dozen buildings, including a pizza shop and a beauty parlour, were burned down late on Monday as protesters took to the streets in anger at the grand jury’s decision.
Police said protesters fired guns at them, set patrol cars on fire and hurled bricks into their lines.
Around 61 arrests were made, officers said.
On Tuesday, dozens of protesters chanted “No justice, no peace!” after dark outside the Ferguson police station, guarded by at least two armoured vehicles, and police made a handful of arrests in several locations.
About a mile away, National Guardsmen surrounded businesses damaged in Monday’s violence. Groups of men also gathered on the roofs of some boarded-up stores to protect the buildings from further damage.
Armed with fire extinguishers and, one said, guns, they plan to stay all night.
Protests swelled from Los Angeles to Washington on Tuesday.
In New York, police used pepper spray to control the crowd after protesters tried to block the Lincoln Tunnel and Triborough Bridge and marched to Times Square.
In Oakland, California, and in Atlanta, protesters blocked traffic, while in Boston others marched past a correctional facility where inmates taped Brown’s name on a window in solidarity with the marchers outside.
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