Update as of 2:30 a.m. EST: St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said at a news conference on Tuesday that he was disappointed by the aftermath of a grand jury decision to not indict Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown, NBC News reported.
“What I've seen tonight is probably much worse than the worst night that we ever had in August,” Belmar reportedly said.
He also added that at least a dozen buildings were set on fire and police had arrested nearly 29 people linked to the protests on Monday night. Belmar also reportedly said he himself heard nearly 150 gunshots that were not fired by police. He also reportedly said that police officers were hit by rocks and a glass bottle.
Ferguson Mayor James Knowles has urged Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon to immediately deploy the National Guard in the St. Louis suburb as tensions escalate after a grand jury announced it will not indict Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown, local media reports said Monday night. Protests turned unruly late on Monday night, as three buildings and two police vehicles were reportedly set on fire, and reports emerged of looting and vandalism in Ferguson.
The St. Louis County Police Department said that police had to use tear gas to disperse violent crowds on South Florissant Avenue after the use of smoke failed to deter protesters. The department also wrote on its Twitter account, citing its officers, that heavy automatic gunfire were heard in the areas of West Florissant and Canfield. The unrest in Ferguson prompted the Federal Aviation Administration to impose a no-fly zone over Ferguson, while it has also reportedly imposed temporary flight restrictions for all flights into St. Louis.
Meanwhile, Attorney General Eric Holder called for calm after the grand jury’s decision, noting that the justice department’s independent investigation into Brown’s death is still underway. He added that authorities “have avoided prejudging any of the evidence” in the federal inquiry.
“Michael Brown’s death was a tragedy. This incident has sparked a national conversation about the need to ensure confidence between law enforcement and the communities they protect and serve,” Holder said, in a statement. “While constructive efforts are underway in Ferguson and communities nationwide, far more must be done to create enduring trust. The Department will continue to work with law enforcement, civil rights, faith and community leaders across the country to foster effective relationships between law enforcement and the communities they serve and to improve fairness in the criminal justice system overall."
He also urged local law enforcement authorities to respect the rights of demonstrators and avoid escalating tension in the region by eschewing the use of excessive force.
“In addition, the Department continues to investigate allegations of unconstitutional policing patterns or practices by the Ferguson Police Department,” Holder added.
Holder said that even though the grand jury's decision would not be welcomed by the people, who have been protesting for days urging authorities to charge Wilson in Brown's death, "this feeling should not lead to violence."
Protests reportedly took place across the nation with nearly 200 people demonstrating in downtown Oakland, California, while a few hundred protesters gathered in New York’s Times Square. About 300 people also protested outside the White House, chanting “Black lives matter.”
Violent protests continue in Ferguson over the grand jury’s decision, even as community leaders called for calm.
"Those who decide to participate in demonstrations should remember the wishes of Michael Brown's parents, who have asked that remembrances of their son be conducted peacefully. It does not honor his memory to engage in violence or looting," Holder said, in the statement.