Police arrest a man as they disperse a protest in Ferguson, Mo., Aug. 20, 2014. (PHOTO: ABC News)
Protesters and police faced off again in Ferguson, Mo. overnight, with a thrown water bottle briefly re-igniting the turmoil – but authorities are hopeful that unrest in the St. Louis suburb is reaching a turning point.
Missouri Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson, speaking at an early-morning press conference, thanked volunteers, clergy and community activists for helping to quell the discontent that's lingered in the St. Louis suburb following the Aug. 9 police shooting of unarmed teen Michael Brown.
“They had a calming influence on the younger people,” Johnson said.
“Tonight, we saw a different dynamic.”
Protesters join hands during a protest in Ferguson, Mo., Aug. 20, 2014.
Authorities arrested 47 people overnight – including one person for the third time, Johnson said. Some of those arrested had made threats to kill a police officer, Johnson said – but the clashes didn't feature some of the heightened measures of previous nights. No Molotov cocktails or shootings from protesters, no smoke bombs or tear gas from police.
A man is arrested as police try to disperse a crowd in Ferguson, Mo., Aug. 20, 2014.
A grand jury could begin hearing evidence today to determine whether the officer, Darren Wilson, should be charged in Brown's death, said Ed Magee, spokesman for St. Louis County's prosecuting attorney. Attorney General Eric Holder was also scheduled to travel to Ferguson today to meet with FBI and other officials carrying out an independent federal investigation into Brown's death.
Holder addressed the situation in an editorial for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
“Our investigation into this matter will be full, it will be fair, and it will be independent,” Holder wrote. “And beyond the investigation itself, we will work with the police, civil rights leaders, and members of the public to ensure that this tragedy can give rise to new understanding — and robust action — aimed at bridging persistent gaps between law enforcement officials and the communities we serve.”
People help a woman sprayed with chemicals after police attempted to disperse a protest in Ferguson, Mo., Aug. 20, 2014.
The overnight unrest followed the Tuesday St. Louis police shooting of a 23-year-old black man after he charged at officers with a knife. Following the fatal shooting, onlookers began chanting “Hands up, don't shoot” and “no justice, no peace.” The chants have been a hallmark of the protests in nearby Ferguson.