Updated 11/25/14 – 10:52 a.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — Chaos erupted Monday night in Ferguson, Missouri, as protesters expressed their outrage at a grand jury’s decision not to indict a white police officer in the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager.
Protesters set dozens of buildings and cars on fire, and fired a flurry of gunshots as they marched through the streets of Ferguson, despite pleas from President Barack Obama and the family of 18-year-old Michael Brown to keep demonstrations peaceful.
Brown’s mother, Lesley McSpadden, wept after learning the grand jury’s decision.
“They still don’t care. They ain’t never going to care,” she shouted as angry protesters marched through the streets of Ferguson, setting dozens of fires.
It was the worst violence seen in Ferguson since Brown’s death.
The chaos prompted the National Guard to move in, following St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch’s announcement that a grand jury of nine whites and three blacks voted not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson on any criminal charges for fatally shooting Brown on Aug. 9.
The Justice Department has been conducting its own investigation into possible federal charges against Wilson for civil rights violations.
Though demonstrations started out calm, they soon descended into chaos as some protesters began damaging police cars, looting local businesses, and setting buildings on fire.
Police arrested at least 60 people in Ferguson overnight, and police fired tear gas into the crowd after violence erupted. St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said he personally heard more than 150 gunshots during the protests.
“We’ve had a lot of incidents with officers being hit by rocks, batteries, different things like that; and I can tell you that I personally heard about 150 shots fired,” he said.
Authorities said 10 flights headed to St. Louis were diverted to other airports due to the flurry of gunshots in Ferguson.
No one was seriously injured during the demonstrations, although at least one police officer was struck in the head by a glass bottle.
Firefighters worked through the night to douse some of the fires set by protesters. Protesters set fire to an auto parts store, a Little Caesar’s pizza shop, and a number of other businesses, and several police squad cars. Others looted businesses, including a McDonalds in Ferguson.
“It’s just tore the community up. It’s not going to get better. I don’t see it getting better. I seen it’s fixing to get worse,” protester Sylvestser Hart said.
Authorities brought in 1,000 extra police officers from the region in preparation for the protests. Asked if police were underprepared, Belmar said they could have brought in 10,000 extra officers, and it wouldn’t have stopped the violence.
By early Tuesday morning, the violence had ebbed as protesters left the streets, but several buildings and cars that had been set on fire were still smoldering.
However, streets were open Tuesday morning where once they had been filled with angry protesters in the hours immediately after the grand jury’s decision was announced.
In Chicago, hundreds of protesters marched from Chicago Public Safety Headquarters at 35th and Michigan to downtown Chicago, using Lake Shore Drive, in the wake of the grand jury’s decision. Though protesters in Chicago were vocal in their opposition to the decision, they remained peaceful as they moved through the streets of Chicago, monitored by dozens of police officers. No violence was reported, and no arrests were made.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. was among the critics of the Ferguson decision Monday.
“Tonight is a sad commentary of a historical pattern: an unarmed black teen shot and killed, and it is seen as justifiable homicide,” he told reporters at a media briefing.
“It’s now open season on our sons and daughters,” said Krissie Harris, who watched the Ferguson announcement live at an Evanston restaurant.