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Unrest Marks Anniversary in Ferguson, Missouri

The U.S. town of Ferguson, Missouri is tense, one year after the shooting death of an unarmed black man. A white police officer shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown. Monday night, police arrested more than 20 protesters in Ferguson.

Officials declared a state of emergency. But the measure did not prevent new clashes between protesters and police.

“This is the St. Louis County Police Department. Get off the roadway.”

As night fell on Ferguson, tensions between demonstrators and police rose once again. Many protesters repeatedly disobeyed police orders to stay off the streets.

Some protesters stopped traffic on West Flourissant Avenue, the neighborhood where protesters rioted and attacked businesses over the past year. The crowd stood close to where Michael Brown was killed. Some people said their understanding of his death has empowered them. Mal Stiff once lived in Ferguson and was among the protesters.

“So they say what we are doing is excessive. But the death of Mike Brown brought an issue that’s been swept under the rug to the light.”

Tiffany Shawn is from St. Louis.

“The activists, the protestors, the people who are really down for change, a lot has changed with them, like a lot of us have been awakened in a way we couldn’t even have imagined.”

But, Ms. Shawn says some things have stayed the same.

“Not a lot has changed with how the police are reacting toward us, and are behaving with us. Not a lot has changed when it comes to that.”

The increased police presence in Ferguson came a night after officers shot and seriously wounded a man. They say he was among six people who fired shots on Sunday. This led to charges against the wounded suspect and an emergency declaration to limit possible violence.

Some on the streets in Ferguson for another night of protests expected and accepted some violence, including Tiffany Shawn.

“Violence is going to happen. I don’t want to minimize it at all because it’s a problem, no one agrees with it. But it’s going to happen, regardless.”

Mal Stiff agrees.

“And when you have a body of people this large, you know what I’m saying, there are bound to be people who don’t like each other. You know what I’m saying?”

There were reports of flying water bottles and rocks in Ferguson Monday night. In reaction to the unrest, police moved quickly to move large numbers of protesters from filling the streets and stopping traffic.

“This is a lot milder than last year. I mean last year it was unexpected, it was a larger body of people. So the outcome was a little more dramatic. You know what I’m saying? This is more positive than last year.”

Police have appealed for calm as more protests are expected.

I’m Caty Weaver.

VOA’s Kana Farabaugh reported on this story from Ferguson, Missouri. George Grow adapted it for Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.


Words in This Story

excessive – adj. doing more than that is normal, usual or expected

swept under the rug – idiom to hide something bad or unpleasant

regardless – adv. without paying attention to the situation or problem

dramatic – adj. sudden and extreme

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