The events of in Ferguson, Missouri, have shocked the nation — from the Aug. 9 shooting death of unarmed teen Michael Brown by a local police officer to the resulting protests and the heavy-handed response by law enforcement officials. Here is a timeline of those events, and the photographs that captured them.
Violence broke out in the streets of Ferguson on the evening of Monday, Nov. 24 following news that a St. Louis County grand jury did not indict police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown. Demonstrations that began peacefully in the wake of the announcement took a nasty turn as looters plundered local stores and protesters flipped cars and set buildings and police vehicles ablaze.
As buildings remained burning, St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay and Police Chief Sam Dotson on Tuesday morning addressed the unrest, stating that preparations are in order for another night of violent protests if necessary. “You will see an intervention much more quickly than you did last night,” Slay said.
County prosecutor Robert McCulloch announced the grand jury’s decision around 9:30 p.m. ET in a lengthy statement at the Justice Center in Clayton, the county seat. He said that while it was undeniable that Wilson had shot and killed Brown in an altercation on August 9, the grand jury “determined that no probable cause exists” to indict the white officer in the killing. “It doesn’t lessen the tragedy that it was a justifiable use of self-defense,” McCulloch added.
A few thousand protesters participated in a “Justice for All” march in St. Louis on Saturday, one of the largest and most diverse gatherings since activism began over the death of Michael Brown.
Unions, religious groups and student organizations gathered behind banners as flags and posters bobbed down the street while drums thundered above a loud din of chants of “Black lives matter! Black lives matter!”
Peace-keepers and volunteers lined the march route while handfuls of police officers leaned back on their squad cars serving as barricades for the protest. But their precautions proved unnecessary because for the second day in a row the demonstrations remained non-violent.
Over 100 protesters marched peacefully down W. Florissant Ave. in Ferguson on Friday night carrying a mirrored coffin in Michael Brown’s honor, kicking off what organizers coined a “Weekend of Resistance,” a multi-day event designed to pay tribute to the lives of young, black men who have died at the hands of the police.
When protesters arrived at the Ferguson Police Department on Friday, they began playing hip-hop music. Some verbally confronted the 20-or-so police officers standing on the sidelines.
“If you touch a police officer, you will be charged with assault,” police warned over a megaphone. But the crowd remained mostly calm – a distinctly lower level of energy than the groups gathered in the days and weeks here after Brown’s death.
Aug. 26-Early Oct.
Nearly two months after the shooting, tensions in Ferguson were still notably high, though violent protests and arrests had tapered off. Gov. Jay Nixon lifted a state of emergency on Sept. 3. Nonetheless, officer Darren Wilson remained in hiding as the grand jury heard testimony from him and other witnesses. Protesters continued to call for St. Louis Prosecutor Robert McCulloch to step down from the investigation, claiming bias.
On Sept. 25, Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson issued a video apology to Brown’s family. He later tried to join protesters only to have a scuffle break out.
In early October, demonstrators interrupted a St. Louis Symphony performance by singing and unfurling banners in support of Michael Brown. Following that event, supporters of Wilson confronted Brown supporters at a St. Louis Cardinals baseball game. Insults and chants were shouted back and forth between the groups.
Politicians, dignitaries and celebrities gathered inside the Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church in St. Louis to pay respect for the teen. They were joined by the families of other young, unarmed black men who have been killed by police officers or white gunmen, including the families of Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis and Oscar Grant.
While speaking at the funeral, Brown family attorney Benjamin Crump and Rev. Al Sharpton reiterated their calls for justice, and called on the world to remember the teen for more than just the rioting and looting that followed his death.
Ferguson saw a string of relatively peaceful nights, with no tear gas or shootings after Attorney General Eric Holder left the St. Louis suburb. After returning, he said in a press conference that “this Department of Justice stands with the people of Ferguson.”
Meanwhile, African-American leaders in Missouri called for the resignation of Ferguson Mayor James Knowles, and protesters continued to demand authorities fire Darren Wilson, the officer who killed Brown. Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon ordered the National Guard to begin withdrawing from Ferguson, where they had been in place for a couple days.
The NAACP organized a march, which took place on Saturday, hoping to channel outrage into political action in the community.
On Sunday, Brown’s parents, along with families of Trayvon Martin and Oscar Grant, came together for “Peace Fest 2014” in Forest Park in St. Louis, an event hosted by The Trayvon Martin Foundation and Better Family Life.
Michael Brown Sr. called for a day of peace and calm on the day of the funeral service.
“Tomorrow, all I want is peace while my son is being laid to rest,” Brown said Sunday. “Please, please take a day of silence so we can lay our son to rest. Please. That’s all I ask. And thank you.”
Hundreds of people attended the rally, which sought to bring attention to the shootings of young African-American men.
Thousands of dollars have been raised for the officer who fatally shot unarmed teen Brown through a crowdfunding website created at the beginning of the week.
In what Missouri Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson called a “turning point” for Ferguson, the city saw a calmer night of protests with no bullets or tear gas fired, although some bottles were thrown around midnight, leading officers to don protective gear. By 1 a.m. early Wednesday morning, there were 47 arrests and two handguns seized.
Ferguson was once again wracked by violence and chaos overnight Monday – the first night since the end of a police-imposed curfew – as police fired tear gas at protesters amid the sound of explosions. Shots rang out and armored police trucks sped down Florissant Avenue. At least two people, both males, were shot “in the dark of night,” Capt. Ron Johnson of the Missouri State Highway Patrol said at a press conference. Two guns and a Molotov cocktail were confiscated. There were two fires, one at a local business and another at an unoccupied residence, Johnson said. Police were hit with bottles and rocks. Seventy-eight people were arrested overnight. Two journalists were reportedly taken into police custody overnight and a Getty photographer was detained and later released.
A day of healing and uplift took a violent turn as protesters were doused with tear gas yet again after Molotov cocktails were reportedly hurled at police. Nixon announced early Monday that he was “directing the highly capable men and women of the Missouri National Guard to assist,” in restoring peace and order to the community.
Aug. 16- Early Aug. 17:
A citywide curfew went into effect at midnight on August 17, hours after the governor declared a state of emergency in this largely African-American suburb of St. Louis where protests and the disproportionate police response roiled the community following the killing one week ago of an unarmed black teenager.
A peaceful demonstration turned violent Wednesday as militarized police wearing fatigues and riot gear tear-gassed dozens of protesters, fired stun grenades into a crowd and arrested reporters in a third night of chaos in the aftermath of the police shooting of Brown. Young black men and women protesters, with their hands held high in the air, had refused to heed police orders to disperse as the sun set. As darkness descended, police moved in, announcing on a bullhorn that the gathering was no longer peaceful and began firing tear gas and stun grenades, choking protesters lined along a main thoroughfare in Ferguson.
Several hundred police officers confronted crowds for a second night on Monday, as peaceful day protests turned violent and authorities arrested 15 people by nighttime. There were reports of tear gas fired, as well as taunting and yelling from drivers toward police as they passed various intersections.
Brown is shot and killed by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson. Riots broke out late Sunday, August 10 in Ferguson, where people smashed car windows and broke into stores following the teen’s death. Roughly 150 police officers were called to contain the scene, and 32 individuals were arrested.