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Protests Rock Ferguson After Officer Isn't Indicted In Brown's Death

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: Mike Brown. Mike Brown. Mike Brown. Not your enemy. We just want justice.

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER: Burn this [bleep] down. Burn this [bleep] down. Burn this [bleep] down.


The voices of protesters in Ferguson, Missouri, last night after a grand jury voted not to bring charges against Officer Darren Wilson. He is the white police officer who shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown last summer, an African-American who was unarmed. The protests turned violent and involved arson and looting with more than 60 people arrested. NPR's Cheryl Corley is in St. Louis, and she joins us now. Good morning.


MONTAGNE: And describe for us what you saw throughout the night.

CORLEY: Well, there were areas of Ferguson that just burned overnight, even though everyone had called for calm. From some of the activist groups to Governor Jay Nixon to President Obama - they all said everyone should have the right to protest, but there should be no violence. And violence there was indeed last night with cars burning and shops burning and a lot of looting. Of course, all of this came in the aftermath of the grand jury decision. This was a grand jury of nine whites and three blacks. The St. Louis prosecuting attorney Robert McCulloch held a news conference announcing the decision last night. And he talked about the grand jury, and here's what he had to say.


ROBERT MCCULLOCH: They were extremely engaged in the process. They met on 25 separate days in the last three months, heard more than 70 hours of testimony from about 60 witnesses and reviewed hours and hours of recordings of media and law enforcement interviews by many of the witnesses who testified.

CORLEY: Renee, he said the grand jury had to consider whether Wilson was the initial aggressor - whether or not he was authorized to use deadly force. They deliberated, and they decided that Darren Wilson should not face any criminal charges for killing Michael Brown.

MONTAGNE: And, Cheryl, what was initial reaction from this crowd outside the courthouse, which was already very tense?

CORLEY: It was a tense moment. But this crowd at the courthouse was fairly calm. A lot of the people were just disappointed. I talked to a college student, Jenelle Lewis (ph), and she said she just didn't think the decision was fair. Here's what she said.

JENELLE LEWIS: I am in school for law enforcement. So this is a pursuit that I wanted to take. But now I don't because I feel like there's no justice.

MONTAGNE: Now, Cheryl, things turned chaotic elsewhere as we now know.


MONTAGNE: And so tell us more about that.

CORLEY: Well, the chaos really happened mostly around Ferguson. And the police chief of St. Louis County, Jon Belmar, said this was much worse than the worst night in August during the first protest. And the Highway Patrol captain, who was part of the unified command, said he just never could have imagined this. And what happened will impact of this community for a very long time.

MONTAGNE: NPR's Cheryl Corley in St. Louis where she has been reporting all night long. Thank you so much.

CORLEY: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Cheryl Corley is a Chicago-based NPR correspondent who works for the National Desk. She primarily covers criminal justice issues as well as breaking news in the Midwest and across the country.