Calm comes to troubled Ferguson, mass arrests at California rallies
Tensions eased in the St Louis suburb of Ferguson on Thursday after two nights of violence and looting sparked by racially charged anger over a grand jury's decision not to charge a white police officer for fatally shooting an unarmed black teenager.
Protests also dwindled elsewhere in the United States as the Thanksgiving Day holiday and wintry weather kept many indoors. But in California, about 500 people were arrested in rallies over the past two days that shut highways in major cities.
Ferguson became the focal point of a national debate on race relations after officer Darren Wilson shot dead Michael Brown on Aug. 9. The U.S. Justice Department is probing possible civil rights abuses, and President Barack Obama has called for reflection on the difficulties minorities face in the country.
Police said two people were arrested in overnight protests in Ferguson and no major incidents were reported. The grand jury's decision on Monday not to charge Wilson sparked angry protests, and more than 100 people were taken into custody on Monday and Tuesday nights as buildings were torched and stores looted, with police in riot gear using tear gas to disperse crowds.
A small but spirited congregation assembled at the Greater St. Mark Family Church, a gathering point for protesters and religious leaders, for a Thanksgiving service where many offered appreciation for their blessings after a tumultuous week.
"My prayers go out to the Brown family. My prayers also go out to the Wilson family," said pastor Tommie Pierson. "We live in a country of laws. But there has to be a law that governs us all."
Ferguson is a predominantly black city where almost all of the political leaders and police are white.
In Los Angeles, a city rocked by racial violence in 1992 after the acquittal of white police officers in the beating of black motorist Rodney King, about 145 protesters were arrested on Wednesday evening. Most were taken into custody for failing to disperse, police spokesman Commander Andrew Smith said on Thursday.