Following a night of unrest in Ferguson surrounding the one-year anniversary of the death of Michael Brown, Missouri authorities have declared a state of emergency for St. Louis County.
According to officials, peaceful protests turned into looting and violence last night as demonstrators continued to demand justice and reform following the death of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old who was fatally shot by Officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9, 2014. By dawn, officers were using pepper spray to disperse the protestors. Tyrone Harris, an 18-year-old African-American, was shot by police after allegedly opening gunfire on a group of plainclothes officers. He remains in critical condition.
"The recent acts of violence will not be tolerated in a community that has worked so tirelessly over the last year to rebuild and become stronger," St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger said in a statement.
Earlier today, 56 non-violent protestors, including DeRay McKesson, Johnetta Elzie and Dr. Cornel West, were arrested while sitting outside of a St. Louis federal courthouse.
“If I’m arrested today, please know I’m not suicidal,” Elzie tweeted shortly before she was taken into custody. “I have plenty to live for. I did not resist, I’m just Black.”
County officials say that they are bracing for another turbulent night. Attorney General Loretta Lynch issued a speech earlier today condemning the violence.
"As we have seen over the recent months and years," she said, "not only does violence obscure any message of peaceful protest, it places the community as well as the officers who seek to protect it in harm's way."