Update as of 1:30 a.m. EDT: The situation in Ferguson has become tense yet again as protesters began throwing bottles at police late on Tuesday night. Authorities arrested people after they entered an area earmarked for members of the media, while three others were arrested away from the media area.
— Kathleen Caulderwood (@KatCaulder) August 20, 2014
FERGUSON, Mo. -- Tuesday night on W. Florissant seemed similar to other nights this week in Ferguson, with a few differences. The protesters remained, continuously walking, chanting and holding signs, and keeping to the sidewalk.
And, as the sun went down, a group of about 200 protesters remained. While a few families with young children filtered out to their cars, the mood wasn’t tense as the group made its way up the street, passing by the QuikTrip where officers and protesters faced off last night, a confrontation that ended, as usual, with tear gas. Now, the area is blocked off with a chain-link fence, and Tuesday night is expected to be quieter than previous ones this week as several local leaders urged people to protest peacefully and go home early.
Although a handful of Jefferson County officers stood with riot gear beside armored cars in one corner by the Ferguson Market, they were part of a relatively small law enforcement presence on the street where people have come out every night for more than a week, angry about last week’s shooting death of 18-year old Michael Brown.
"Hands up don't shoot we're real protesters we don't loot," yelled Anthony Cage, 49, brandishing the same sign bearing the same slogan he has held up on this street since Saturday.
"Everyone's got a grip on things now," he said, adding that the lowered police presence is a benefit for the moment."When you pull the tanks out it puts people on edge, this kind of presence is okay."
Meanwhile, a few miles away in Baden, which is part of St. Louis City (Ferguson is part of St. Louis County), another group has gathered but the mood is markedly different.
"Down here, this is the city, it’s different from Ferguson. Officers in the city are a bit more understanding than county cops," said Bradley Cowen, 23. "Down here they don't care what we do."
The slightly younger, mostly male crowd sipped drinks from Styrofoam cups and smoked cigarettes, illuminated by light streaming from the Six Star Market where the 23-year-old who was shot eight times by police is reported to have stolen items before the incident. Across the street, a few young men stood watching the crowd and talking.
"It might not happen tonight it won't happen tomorrow, but something’s going to happen," said Jason Westbrook, 34, leaning against his car. "Some people are unstable right now, they're fed up."
Deshan Warren, 30, stood a few feet away from the entrance, wearing a wide-brimmed hat with a gold ribbon tied around.
"They killed that boy for no reason. This has been going on a long time and people who don't stand for nothing fall for anything," he said. "If you don't address the problem it's going to get out of hand."
And, as protesters dug in for another night of demonstrations Missouri Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson, who is in charge of security in Ferguson and has blamed "criminals" from out of town for inciting violence, said Tuesday night, according to NBC News: "We're going to stand up to them. We're not going to let them defeat us."
Despite the arrests and incidents of bottle-throwing, Tuesday night was markedly different from the previous night despite the tensions mainly because of the lack of tear gas, rubber bullets and general chaos, though police did use pepper spray on a handful of protesters who refused to leave the media area when officers requested them. They also arrested a handful of people that Missouri Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson said were carrying guns and were a threat to the safety of everyone around them.
“I think there was a turning point made,” Johnson said to reporters later at a press conference, adding: "What made a difference? Tonight the elders in the community, volunteers, activists and the clergy came out in large numbers,” Johnson said. "They walked they talked with people. They urged order."