Police began firing tear gas and stun grenades at demonstrators in Ferguson, Missouri, Monday night following days of unrest sparked by the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a white policeman.
Witnesses said that the action by police came after hours of a mostly peaceful but tense street protest.
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The latest clashes came at the end of a day in which a pathologist hired by the Brown family said the unarmed 18-year-old suffered a bullet wound to his right arm that may indicate his hands were up or his back was turned. But the pathologist said the team that examined Brown cannot be sure yet exactly how the wounds were inflicted until they have more information.
Protesters filled the streets after nightfall, and officers used bullhorns to order them to disperse. Police deployed noisemakers and armoured vehicles to push demonstrators back. During one confrontation, officers fired tear gas and flash grenades. There were no reports of serious injuries.
After the streets had been mostly cleared, authorities ordered reporters to leave as well, citing the risk from gunfire that had been reported.
As darkness fell Monday National Guard units with armoured vehicles were waiting at a staging area about a half-mile from the portion of West Florissant Avenue that has been the scene of the largest protests since the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown nine days ago.
As a crowd of demonstrators was marching and growing in size, sheriff's deputies in body armour and state troopers carrying wooden bats and gas masks stood watch over the group.
Police were telling protesters Monday that they could not assemble in a single spot, saying they had to keep moving. In federal court, a judge denied a request from the American Civil Liberties Union for a restraining order that would have prevented authorities from enforcing the rule.
Two men were arrested for disorderly conduct and failure to disperse, police said. Scott Olson, a photographer for the Getty photo agency covering the events since Aug. 11, was arrested while covering the demonstrations and later released.
Authorities were also establishing a designated protest zone for nightly demonstrations. The plan was announced Monday by St. Louis County police.
It was not clear what would happen to those who refuse to use the area along West Florissant Avenue, where the majority of protests have occurred.
A grand jury could begin hearing evidence Wednesday to determine whether the officer, Darren Wilson, should be charged in the death of the 18-year-old Brown, said Ed Magee, spokesman for St. Louis County's prosecuting attorney.
Obama calls for peace
Earlier Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama urged "rightly hurting" protesters to remain peaceful, and called on police to do the same.
The National Guard was called in by Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon after another night of violent clashes on Sunday. Nixon removed, however, a midnight curfew that had been in place on Saturday and Sunday.
St. Louis police confirmed via Twitter that protesters were arrested without incident on Monday for failure to disperse. The police department said the first of the day’s protests, a march in Kiener Plaza was peaceful.
"We are committed to ensuring every citizen’s constitutional rights of freedom of speech and assembly in a peaceful and lawful manner," the department wrote on Twitter Monday evening.
At his White House press conference, Obama said the vast majority of protesters in Ferguson were peaceful, but warned that a small minority was undermining justice.
Obama expressed sympathy for the "passions and anger," but said giving in to that anger through looting and attacks on police only stirs tensions and leads to further chaos. He said overcoming the mistrust endemic between many communities and their local police would require Americans to "listen and not just shout."
"That's how we're going to move forward together, by trying to unite each other and understand each other and not simply divide ourselves from one another," Obama said.
Both protesters and police should "seek to heal, rather than wound each other," Obama said, adding "there’s no excuse for excessive force by police," amid the crisis.
Speaking after meeting with Attorney General Eric Holder, Obama said Holder would travel to Ferguson to meet with FBI and other officials carrying out an independent federal investigation into Brown's death.
He said he also had told Gov. Nixon he wanted to ensure the use of National Guard troops to help calm tensions in Ferguson must be limited in scope, and said he would be monitoring that operation in the coming days to see whether the guard's involvement was helping or hurting.
New autopsy ordered
A pathologist hired by Brown's family said Monday that Brown suffered a bullet wound to his right arm that may indicate his hands were up or his back was turned.
Forensic pathologist Shawn Parcells, who assisted former New York City chief medical examiner Dr. Michael Baden during the private autopsy said a bullet grazed Brown's right arm. He said the wound indicates Brown may have had his back to the shooter, or he could have been facing the shooter with his hands above his head or in a defensive position across his chest or face.
"We don't know," Parcells said. "We still have to look at the other [elements] of this investigation before we start piecing things together."
The independent autopsy determined that Brown was shot at least six times, including twice in the head.
Witnesses have said Brown's hands were above his head when he was repeatedly shot by an officer on Aug. 9.
A third and final autopsy was performed Monday for the Justice Department by the one of the military's most experienced medical examiners, Holder said.
Brown's death has heightened racial tensions between the predominantly black community and Ferguson's mostly white police department.The St. Louis County medical examiner's autopsy found that Brown was shot six to eight times in the head and chest, office administrator Suzanne McCune said Monday. But she declined further comment, saying the full findings were not expected for about two weeks.
Family attorney Benjamin Crump said Brown's parents wanted the additional autopsy because they feared results of the county's examination could be biased. Crump declined to release copies of the report.
"They could not trust what was going to be put in the reports about the tragic execution of their child," he said during Monday's news conference with Parcells and Baden, who has testified in several high-profile cases, including the O.J. Simpson murder trial.
The second autopsy, Crump said, "verifies that the witness accounts were true: that he was shot multiple times."