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Ferguson, Mo., Residents Grow Tired Of Violent Protests


In Ferguson, Mo., today, people are on edge. Protests continued there last night. That's after police shot and injured a man who they say shot at them this weekend. All this comes after a series of demonstrations marking the first anniversary of Michael Brown's death. As NPR's Hansi Lo Wang reports from Ferguson, many residents say they're being worn out, both by the protests and the unrest.

HANSI LO WANG, BYLINE: Last summer, the shooting death of Michael Brown tore apart this city, one that Laquita Robertson calls home. Now, a year later, Robertson says the way some people are marking that death is threatening Ferguson's tenuous peace. There were the shootings and store lootings this weekend. Robertson says she doesn't approve of some of the peaceful protests either, like forming a human-chain to stop traffic on the interstate.

LAQUITA ROBERTSON: But it was still crazy. I mean, why would you jump on the highway and walk? Accidents could have occurred. You know, people's lives would have been jeopardized on a march.

WANG: She says the protesters have her attention, but those living here will have to deal with the aftermath.

ROBERTSON: At the end of the day, when - I guess when it's all over with and said and done, we still have to live here after y'all done destroyed it, put it in an uproar, tore up a lot of things.

WANG: Ferguson resident Alan Mills says he's had it with the sporadic violence that has erupted around peaceful and often meaningful protests.

ALAN MILLS: Yes, I am. That I am - I'm fed up with it. I'm tired of it. I'm - I'm sorry about Mike Brown, but all of that other stuff is not necessary right now.

WANG: Maria Chappelle-Nadal represents Ferguson as a Missouri state senator and has been active in protests here since last year. While she doesn't condone the violence, she thinks that protesting is necessary to keep pressure on her fellow politicians.

MARIA CHAPPELLE-NADAL: There's this perception that they create in the media - we care about black people - and then when they get behind closed doors, it's business as usual. And we're sick of it. We're really sick of it.

WANG: Chapelle-Nadal says peaceful protesters like her want to see more changes in local and national policies around police accountability and relations between officers and the communities they serve. She adds that long-time demonstrators have been vigilant about keeping their protests in control. But then there are the newcomers.

CHAPELLE-NADAL: There are a lot of new people who've been part of these protests that now - who don't know about self-policing. But here's the other thing - I don't care if someone's uncomfortable or not. There's a First Amendment for a reason. It protects us. It allows us to voice our opinions when we have a grievance with our - our government.

WANG: Grievances that Ferguson resident Seven Young says are still valid.

SEVEN YOUNG: I went out last year, and I'm still in Ferguson. And...

WANG: Were you out this weekend?

YOUNG: No, I wasn't out this weekend.

WANG: Why not?

YOUNG: I went out there when it was fresh, when it really needed to be done, you know?

WANG: Now Young says, a year later, there's enough people out on the streets. They don't need him. So he's thinking more about staying safe for his 3-year-old daughter. He says he'll continue supporting the protests, but he'll be watching them at home on TV. Hansi Lo Wang, NPR News, Ferguson, Mo. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Hansi Lo Wang (he/him) is a national correspondent for NPR reporting on the people, power and money behind the U.S. census.