FERGUSON, Mo. — Aiming to head off another night of looting and arson, Gov. Jay Nixon called in reinforcements Tuesday in an effort to quell the violence that gripped this St. Louis suburb after a grand jury declined to indict Darren Wilson, a white police officer, in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager.
At an afternoon news conference, Governor Nixon said that 2,200 National Guard troops would be deployed Tuesday — triple the 700 in the city the night before.
“Violence like we saw last night cannot be repeated,” Mr. Nixon said earlier in the day. The extra troops, he said, were needed “to ensure people and property will be protected.”
St. Louis County officials said there were 61 arrests, on a variety of charges, in the hours of unrest that followed the grand jury’s announcement.
“I would like to make this statement perfectly clear: We would like to thank the many police officers, firefighters and Missouri Highway Patrol troopers for putting themselves in harm’s way to protect our residents and our businesses,” the mayor said at a news conference. “Unfortunately, as the unrest grew and further assistance was needed, the National Guard was not deployed in enough time to save all of our businesses.”
Mr. Knowles described the delay in deploying the Guard as “deeply concerning,” and he asked Mr. Nixon “to deploy all necessary resources to prevent the further destruction of property.”
Jon Belmar, the St. Louis County police chief, said demonstrators had set fire to at least a dozen buildings in and around Ferguson, and estimated that he had heard about 150 gunshots. None of the shots, he said, were fired by the police. .
Later Tuesday, lawyers for Mr. Brown’s family criticized the prosecutors who presented the case to the grand jury, saying that they did an inadequate job and failed to vigorously challenge Officer Wilson’s credibility.
Mr. Brown’s representatives also questioned the close relationship between the police and the prosecutors in St. Louis County — which family lawyers said tainted the county’s investigation.
“We have the local prosecutor who has a symbiotic relationship with the local police and the local police officers,” a lawyer for the family, Benjamin Crump, said.
Another lawyer for the family, Anthony Gray, said Officer Wilson’s testimony had been inconsistent in several areas. “Most of what he said didn’t line up with the physical evidence,” he said.
Testimony from witnesses who appeared before the grand jury presented a muddled picture of what might have happened during the encounter between Mr. Brown and Officer Wilson.
Whereas one witness, for example, said Mr. Brown had at one point been on his knees with his hands in the air, at least one other witness said Mr. Brown had charged toward the officer before he was shot.
The Rev. Al Sharpton said the family would continue to press for federal charges to be filed against Officer Wilson. “We may have lost one round, but the fight is not over,” he said.
Arson fires continued to burn Tuesday, and some of the flames and smoke on West Florissant Avenue, a main thoroughfare in Ferguson that was an epicenter of the violence in August, lapped over fence lines behind storefronts, swooping perilously close to homes.
“It’s horrible, horrible, horrible, horrible,” said Tammy Ruffin, 54, standing in stinging smoke that swept over her house Tuesday morning. “I knew this was going to happen.”
Although she said that she, too, was upset that Officer Wilson had not been indicted, “It’s the wrong reaction,” she said.
The outbreak of violence played out even as President Obama spoke from the White House on Monday evening and pleaded for calm and restraint from both the police and the protesters.
“First and foremost, we are a nation built on the rule of law,” Mr. Obama said. “And so we need to accept that this decision was the grand jury’s to make.”
Speaking on Monday at a news conference in Clayton, Mo., Robert P. McCulloch, the St. Louis County prosecutor, described the series of events that led to the shooting, as well as the evidence presented to the 12-member grand jury. He detailed an altercation inside Officer Wilson’s vehicle, after which Officer Wilson had Mr. Brown’s blood on his weapon, shirt and pants, the prosecutor said, as well as swelling and redness on his face.
On Tuesday, Ed Magee, a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office, defended the release of the grand jury decision at close to 8:30 p.m. Missouri time, when the streets of St. Louis were dark and demonstrators had already amassed in front of the Ferguson Police Department.
The timing of the announcement was decided solely by Mr. McCulloch, Mr. Magee said. “There is no good time,” Mr. Magee said, calling criticisms of the timing “obviously not fair.”
“There’s no guarantee that things were going to be good no matter when you did it.”
But Mr. Magee also said that Mr. McCulloch did not notify Governor Nixon that the grand jury had reached a decision. The governor hastily flew to St. Louis on Monday afternoon once he received word that the announcement was imminent, but it was not as a result of coordination with the prosecutor’s office, Mr. Magee said.
In Ferguson, the unrest that began outside the police station quickly spread through other parts of the city and region, as people braved chilly temperatures to take to the streets. In St. Louis, protesters shuttered Interstate 44 and marched along Grand Boulevard in the southern part of the city.
Disorder broke out moments after Mr. McCulloch announced that Mr. Wilson would not face charges for the Aug. 9 shooting.
Mr. Brown’s mother, Lesley McSpadden, and stepfather, Louis Head, stood with protesters outside the barricaded Ferguson police station as Mr. McCulloch made the decision public. As Ms. McSpadden cried, Mr. Head turned and yelled, with an expletive injected, “Burn this down!”
The crowd began to roar, and some demonstrators rushed toward a fence near which police officers had assembled.
“You need to disperse,” a voice over the loudspeaker of an armored police vehicle said after protesters threw rocks at officers, vandalized buildings and set fire to a police squad car. “Leave the area immediately.”
Almost on cue, right after Mr. McCulloch said that Officer Wilson would not be charged, cars began flooding what was an empty West Florissant Avenue. Outraged pedestrians foretold the volatility that ensued.
As the unrest began in some parts of Ferguson, the police initially held back. On West Florissant, demonstrators shattered windows at a McDonald’s restaurant and a wireless phone store, and they removed wooden boards that were intended to protect a liquor store.
But the police eventually returned to the streets with significant force. As the authorities regained control of most of West Florissant, they formed a line with armored vehicles to restrict access and threatened to arrest those who remained on the street.
“You need to stop destroying the city of Ferguson,” an officer said over a loudspeaker.
Chief Belmar said the initial, hands-off tactics by the police were intended to allow protesters to stage peaceful demonstrations, but he said that the situation ultimately grew so unstable that it required a more forceful approach.
But the Rev. Waltrina Middleton, who traveled here from Chicago to help maintain peace, blamed the police for aggression. “I think they’re going over the top,” she said. “A lot of what you see is a response to the aggressive nature of the police.”
A variety of businesses in the Ferguson area, including nail shops, a Walgreens and a public storage facility, went up in flames. Firefighters, the police said, could not easily reach burning businesses because the conditions were too dangerous.
Gunfire rang out frequently throughout the night — sometimes sounding like it came from an automatic weapon — forcing protesters and reporters along the strip to rush for cover.
The scenes of fire and smoke throughout the city were both intimidating and captivating to residents of the area. Mike Jones, 30, who lives on the north side of St. Louis, said he was watching the events unfold from his home but then raced out to assess the situation in person. He had mixed feelings about what he saw. The black community needed to take a stand, he said, but the looting and fires only take money away from people.
“People, they’re only able to express themselves so many ways,” said Mr. Jones, who is black. “It’s never a win-win situation.”
In a terse statement issued just after 1 a.m., the office of Mr. Nixon, who visited Ferguson hours before the grand jury’s announcement, said the governor had ordered more members of the National Guard into the city, but did not specify how many.
“The Guard is providing security at the Ferguson Police Department, which will allow additional law enforcement officers to protect the public,” the statement said.
On Monday night, National Guard soldiers had been assigned to protect, among other locations, a police command post and an electrical substation. That approach, though, frustrated Mayor Knowles as the unrest spread.
“They’re here in the area,” Mr. Knowles said, “I don’t know why they’re not deploying.”
It remained unclear what other steps the authorities would take to manage protests that were expected to continue. Earlier this year, Mr. Nixon briefly imposed a midnight curfew in Ferguson.
Captain Ronald S. Johnson of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, one of the commanders overseeing the police response, deflected a question about whether Missouri officials might reinstate a curfew.
“A curfew wouldn’t have made a difference tonight,” he said.
By JOHN ELIGON and ALAN BLINDERNOV. 25, 2014 (New York Times)
Manny Fernandez, Mitch Smith and Monica Davey contributed reporting from Ferguson, and Julie Bosman from Clayton. Timothy Williams contributed reporting from New York.