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Ferguson Police Arrest Dozens of Protesters as Pentagon Requests City Return Humvees

23 people were arrested in total on Monday in the St. Louis suburb that saw weeks of demonstrations last year following the August 9 shooting of Michael Brown.
August 11, 2015, 4:29pm
Photo by Reuters

From Ferguson to downtown St. Louis, authorities arrested dozens of protesters in Missouri on Monday as demonstrators gathered for a third day to commemorate one year since unarmed black teenager Michael Brown was shot and killed by police officer Darren Wilson.

Gunfire broke out during demonstrations in Ferguson on Sunday night, with critics launching claims of aggressive policing. While many were on edge after Sunday's violence, crowds peacefully left the protest site at Florissant Avenue at around 1am on Tuesday.

County police spokesman Shawn McGuire reported no burglaries, looting, or property damage occurred, while highlighting that neither tear gas nor smoke was deployed on the participants — as was done during protests last fall targeting individuals demonstrating against a grand jury's decision not to indict Wilson in the 18-year-old's death.

There were, however, 23 arrests in total on Monday in the St. Louis suburb that saw weeks of demonstrations last year following the August 9 shooting, with the protests at times escalating to violence.

In addition to the arrests, police officers wore riot gear as they worked to keep hundreds of protesters out of the streets. After St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger declared a state of emergency for the county on Monday morning, command of Ferguson's police force was turned over to St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar.

"They're not going to take the street tonight," Belmar told the Associated Press. "That's not going to happen."

Related: Cornel West, DeRay Mckesson, and Others Arrested as Emergency Declared in Ferguson

Meanwhile, in St. Louis city limits, police detained nearly 60 people participating in demonstrations downtown, with activists Cornel West and DeRay Mckesson among those taken into custody. Authorities arrested another 64 people who gathered on Interstate 70 during rush hour on Monday afternoon.

Another Ferguson development emerged on Tuesday, with St. Louis County filing charges against Washington Post reporter Wesley Lowery and Huffington Post reporter Ryan J. Reilly for their arrests in Ferguson last year. The pair were arrested at a McDonald's while covering the demonstrations. Lowery has been charged with trespassing and interfering with a police officer, according to the Post.

Critics have slammed the Ferguson police department for employing aggressive tactics, with the presence of military Humvees in their arsenal used as an example of perceived police militarization.

While the department brought the military SUVs out in Ferguson over the weekend, the Obama Administration is reportedly planning to take back two of the vehicles. The Humvees in question were given to the police department through a Pentagon program, but a spokesman for the suburb told the Guardian that the Department of Defense has requested their return.

"They have simply informed us they will be taking them back," Ferguson spokesperson Jeff Small, according to the Guardian.

Related: Man Shot by Ferguson Police in 'Critical' Condition After Protests on Anniversary of Michael Brown's Death

The vehicles reportedly lack the correct authorization, and Pentagon officials initially requested their return in June.

"The Ferguson police department officially has two Humvees on their books; the state coordinators provided the police department two more Humvees without following the proper transfer protocol," Defense Department spokesman Mark Wright told the Guardian.

Brown's death last August not only sparked weeks of protests in Ferguson, but demonstrations spread throughout the country. In the aftermath of the shooting, including the non-indictment of Officer Wilson, the Justice Department has called for a complete overhaul of the Ferguson Police Department after an investigation found that widespread constitutional violations and racist police tactics were commonplace in the city.

In the year since Brown's death, police officers have killed at least 1,083 Americans, according to data compiled by VICE News. So far, 22 of the officers involved in those incidents have been indicted or charged.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

**Watch "Talking Heads: A Look Back at the Violence in Ferguson": **