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Ferguson Protesters Vow To Keep The Memory Of Michael Brown Alive


It was a long day of protests in and around Ferguson, Mo. yesterday, the day after police critically wounded a man they said had fired upon them. The violence came during events marking the one-year anniversary of the shooting death of Michael Brown. Scores of peaceful protesters were arrested Monday for blocking a major interstate highway and also the entrance to the federal courthouse in St. Louis. And late last night, 23 people were arrested in Ferguson after a standoff with police. NPR's Hansi Lo Wang is in Ferguson.

HANSI LO WANG, BYLINE: After sunset, there are protesters on one side of West Florissant Avenue and police lined up on another. But after officers pulled a demonstrator from the crowd later in the night, both sides faced off in the street.

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: Don't shoot. Hands up. Don't shoot. Hands up.

WANG: Police say the protest ended with no injuries, shootings or property damage. At one point, though, the St. Louis County Police Department tweeted, this is no longer a peaceful protest.

RNESHA BALDWIN: They have a right to be mad. We all have a right to be mad, and we have a right to say whatever.

WANG: Thirty-two-year-old Rnesha Baldwin lives in St. Louis and said she's been coming to protests here since last August. Last night escalated because, she said, police overreacted.

BALDWIN: So if they stand there and they didn't respond and didn't say anything, everything would've stayed chill and peaceful.

WANG: Police said, though, that they were responding to participants who threw bottles and rocks at them. The city was already on edge after shootings and store lootings over the weekend. On Monday before the protest, Ferguson resident Lavonda Logan said it's starting to look like August 2014 all over again.

LAVONDA LOGAN: It don't even feel like it's been a year. It just feel like it just happened. It just happened. That's how I feel. It's like we never forgot about it.

WANG: Logan lives a short drive from last night's protests in the same neighborhood were Michael Brown was shot and killed. Logan says she supports the protesters but not the violence.

LOGAN: I can't expect my community to protect me and my kids. And I just feel like a lot of times, when they do burn up the stores and all of that, it's pointless.

WANG: Forty-five-year-old Darlene Evans of Ferguson says she's also worried about her 10 children.

DARLENE EVANS: Ferguson is an outlet for people to come and do their crimes. Don't come to Ferguson and say, it's about Michael Brown. Michael Brown did what he had to do. He's gone. Let him rest in peace.

WANG: A year later, there are still a mound of stuffed animals on the spot where Michael Brown's dead body lay on the street after he was shot. Before last night's protest, David McNeil, who lives in Ferguson, stopped by to pay his respects and reflect on Sunday's violence.

DAVID MCNEIL: I feel that this is going to be a yearly event for quite a while. You're always going to have that 1 percent that's going to say, hey, this is a time to do something criminal. So I think next year, you're going to see the exact same thing. And that's sad.

WANG: McNeil said he probably won't come to Michael Brown's memorial again. Before he left, he stood for a moment next to a bronze dove embedded into the sidewalk. Then, he closed his eyes, bowed his head, and said a silent prayer. Hansi Lo Wang, NPR News, Ferguson, Mo. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.