Police in riot gear fired tear gas into a crowd of protesters in a St. Louis suburb where an unarmed black teenager had been fatally shot by police over the weekend, as tension rose even amid calls for collective calm.
Authorities used tear gas and rubber bullets Monday night to try to disperse a crowd at the site of a burned-out convenience store damaged a night earlier, when many businesses were looted. Police said at least five people were arrested.
Between two nights of unrest, a community forum hosted by the local NAACP chapter Monday night drew hundreds to a sweltering church in Ferguson, the St. Louis County suburb of 21,000 that's nearly 70 per cent black and the place where 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot multiple times after being confronted by an officer.
Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson said a large crowd that gathered throughout the day Monday at the site of a burned-out convenience store turned rowdy at nightfall, throwing rocks at police. Officers used tear gas and shot ``beanbag rounds'' meant to stun them, he said.
St. Louis County police spokesman Brian Schellman said there were at least five arrests and no reports of looting. Nearly three dozen people had been arrested following a candlelight vigil Sunday night when crowds burned stores, vandalized vehicles, assaulted reporters and taunted officers.
``People are tired. They have reached the end of their rope,'' said Ruth Latchison Nichols after the NAACP forum, where many more were left waiting outside once the pews reached capacity. ``Enough is enough. This is a state of emergency.''
National NAACP President Cornell William Brooks implored residents to ``turn your anger into action'' while condemning a violent response to Brown's death.
``To sneak around under the cover of darkness, to steal, to loot, to burn down your neighbourhood _ this does not require courage,'' he said. ``Courage is when you strive for justice.''
The FBI has opened an investigation into Brown's death, looking into possible civil rights violations. Witnesses have said that Brown had his hands raised when the unidentified officer approached with his weapon drawn and fired repeatedly.
Brown's parents have been among those calling for calm. His family, who had planned to drop him off at a technical college Monday to begin his studies, have asked people to share any information and videos they might have related to the shooting.