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Protests remain tense in Missouri

Jim Salter
The Associated Press

O'FALLON, Mo. (AP) — Protests in Missouri's two largest metro areas over the death of George Floyd and police treatment of African Americans devolved from peaceful demonstrations to spurts of chaos late Sunday and early Monday, with vehicles and buildings damaged and officers firing tear gas after being pelted with rocks, fireworks and molotov cocktails.

Demonstrators marched in at least five Missouri cities and across the country in another day of protests sparked by the May 25 death of Floyd, a handcuffed black man who pleaded for air as a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck for several minutes.

Tensions boiled over for a second straight night Sunday in both Kansas City and Ferguson, the city in St. Louis County that became synonymous with the Black Lives Matter movement after the August 2014 death of Michael Brown, a black 18-year-old, during a confrontation with a white police officer.

Just as in 2014, the Ferguson Police Department was a focus of demonstrators on Sunday night. Police began dispersing the crowd shortly after 10 p.m., but some people damaged windows at Ferguson Brewing Co. just down the street. Minutes later, after someone threw a Molotov cocktail at a police car, officers responded with tear gas and ordered protesters to clear the area.

St. Louis County police reported that two officers suffered minor injuries. One was hit by fireworks, the other by a rock. Neither required hospitalization. Six people were arrested.

The violence wasn’t as severe as Saturday, when seven St. Louis County officers were injured after being hit by rocks, bottles and fireworks, at least 11 police and fire vehicles were damaged. Several buildings also were damaged, including the Ferguson Police Department. Police also reported gunfire in the area of the protests.

St. Louis County Executive Sam Page, a Democrat, said Monday that he understands the anger because a “tidal wave of racism” still blindsides the nation.

“We are a country that is scared,” Page said at a news conference. “We are country that is angry. And we are a country that is holding out for the promise of justice for all. And when it is abundantly clear that that promise has been broken, then we will see marchers in our street.”

Sunday’s protest in Kansas City also wasn’t as violent as Saturday’s, when 85 people were arrested and several businesses were damaged. In fact, the Sunday gathering of more than 1,000 people near the Country Club Plaza was peaceful enough that police waived an 8 p.m. curfew that had been ordered earlier in the day.

But later Sunday night, police used tear gas to break up the protest that included damage to businesses and fire that destroyed a KSHB-TV news vehicle. Police fired rounds of tear gas into the crowd after objects were thrown at them, officers told the Kansas City Star.

The protests came amid otherwise violent weekends in both metropolitan areas. In Kansas City, two people died in separate shootings Sunday night, including one just blocks away from the protest site. In St. Louis, two people were killed and 17 people were injured in weekend shootings.