Ferguson protesters began targeting Black Friday sales at major retailers overnight in a new tactic to vent their anger at a grand jury decision not to indict a white Officer Darren Wilson who fatally shot black teenager Michael Brown.
About 75 demonstrators protested peacefully, chanting “Hands up, don’t shoot!”, bemusing bargain-hunters pushing their brimming shopping carts inside a Walmart in another nearby suburb of St. Louis.
They dispersed peacefully when ordered by a small group of police, moving on to a Target store where they staged a similar demonstration. More protests were planned for Friday.
Ferguson became a flashpoint for often troubled US race relations after Officer Darren Wilson shot dead Michael Brown on August 9.
The grand jury’s decision on November 24 not to charge Darren Wilson prompted a spasm of fury in Ferguson. About a dozen businesses were torched and more than 100 people were arrested in clashes with riot police that rumbled on into Tuesday night.
Before heading in convoy to Walmart late on Thursday, a group of some 100 demonstrators ate Thanksgiving dinner, sang, prayed and discussed their new strategy in the basement of a St. Louis church.
Ferguson, home to about 21,000 people, is a predominantly black city where almost all the political leaders and police are white.
Michael Brown’s family say they are “crushed” by the grand jury’s decision not to charge Officer Darren Wilson.
Michael Brown Sr. told NBC news his son’s character had been “crucified”.
Separately, Michael Brown’s mother said Darren Wilson had been “disrespectful”.
Darren Wilson, who shot dead Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, on August 9, has told ABC he has a “clean conscience”.
There were protests over the ruling in 13 US cities on Tuesday night.
In Ferguson, there was some unrest as protesters scuffled with police, and a police car outside the town hall was set alight.
However, police said security was “much better” than Monday, when there was widespread rioting and looting, and more than a dozen buildings were set alight.
About 2,000 National Guard troops were deployed in the city on Tuesday night, up from 700 on Monday. Forty-four people were arrested.
Rallies in the area continued on November 26, as at least 200 protesters gathered outside St Louis City Hall, holding a mock trial for Darren Wilson.
Some demonstrators stormed the hall, shouting “shame, shame”, and forcing police to lockdown the building, AP news agency reported. Two people were reportedly arrested.
Anger at the ruling has spread to cities across the US.
Protests were reported on Tuesday night in 12 cities, in addition to Ferguson: Philadelphia, Seattle, Albuquerque, New York, Cleveland, Los Angeles, Oakland, Minneapolis, Atlanta, Portland, Chicago and Boston.
Those demonstrations were mostly peaceful, but rioting broke out in Oakland, California, where protesters started a street fire.
In Los Angeles, 130 protesters were arrested for disorderly conduct, the LA Times reported.
Police also arrested several demonstrators in Boston, Atlanta and New York, Reuters said.
Ferguson protests have spread across the US after the grand jury’s decision not to charge white policeman Darren Wilson who shot black teenager Michael Brown.
Demonstrations from New York to Seattle were mostly peaceful but rioting broke out in Oakland, California.
There was some unrest in Ferguson itself, with police making 44 arrests, but the town did not see rioting on the scale of Monday night.
Officer Darren Wilson says he has a “clean conscience”.
Darren Wilson, who shot 18-year-old Michael Brown on August 9, told ABC News that in the struggle which preceded the shooting, he had felt “like a five-year-old holding on to [US wrestler] Hulk Hogan”.
Many in Ferguson’s predominantly African-American community had called for Darren Wilson to be charged with murder, but the grand jury’s decision means the police officer will not face state criminal charges over the shooting.
Lawyers for Michael Brown’s family denounced the grand jury’s decision as “unfair” while condemning the violence that followed the decision.
St Louis County police chief Jon Belmar said November 25 had been “generally a much better night” in Ferguson, a town of 21,000 people.
Tear gas was fired just once, he said, when rioters smashed windows at the Ferguson town hall. There was only one report of shooting, he added, when a car was set alight.
Some 2,200 National Guard soldiers were deployed to assist police in keeping order in and around the town.
Protests were reported in 12 cities: St Louis itself as well as Seattle, Albuquerque, New York, Cleveland, Los Angeles, Oakland, Minneapolis, Atlanta, Portland, Chicago and Boston.
In Oakland, in the San Francisco Bay area, rioters vandalized police cars and businesses in the centre during a second night of unrest in the port city of 406,000 people.
Looting was reported in several locations, including a classic car dealership and a mobile phone store, while a main road was briefly blocked, the US broadcaster CBS reports.
Speaking from Chicago on November 25, President Barack Obama said there was “no excuse” for destructive behavior and criminal acts of rioting, adding that those responsible should be prosecuted.
The frustration seen by the grand jury’s decision, the president said, had “deep roots in many communities of color who have a sense that our laws are not being enforced uniformly or fairly”.
Barack Obama said he had ordered Attorney General Eric Holder to look at what steps could be taken to build trust in communities and make sure that “law enforcement is fair”.
Much of the debate since August has centered on whether Michael Brown was attempting to surrender to Darren Wilson when he was shot.
Speaking to ABC News in his first public comments, Darren Wilson said there was nothing he could have done differently.
“The reason I have a clean conscience is because I know I did my job right,” he said.
Darren Wilson denied witness statements that Michael Brown had put his hands up, insisting race had played no part in the confrontation.