Protesters in Ferguson pressed pause Thursday to observe the Thanksgiving holiday, decorating boarded-up storefronts and gathering for church services and turkey giveaways in marked contrast to the previous days' outrage over the grand jury decision in the Michael Brown case.
No police or Missouri National Guard members stood sentry outside the Ferguson police station, where people have gathered to protest — sometimes violently — since Monday night's announcement that white Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson would not be indicted in the August shooting death of 18-year-old Brown, who was black and unarmed.
On the lightly traveled main street through Ferguson's downtown Thursday, efforts were underway to beautify the city, where dozens of buildings were damaged or destroyed by fire on Monday. Amid freezing temperatures and occasional snow flurries, groups painted designs on plywood that covered businesses' windows — in many cases as protection against vandals. A handful of others attended a church service, where a pastor pledged prayer for families of Wilson and Brown.
In downtown St. Louis, a group gathered near Busch Stadium for what organizer Paul Byrd called a "pro-community" car rally meant to be peaceful and counteract the recent violence.
Byrd, a 45-year-old construction worker from Imperial, Missouri, declined to say whether he supported Wilson but noted, "I totally support police officers." The cruise was escorted by a city police vehicle; no protesters showed up.
Since the grand jury's decision was announced Monday night, protests have taken place across the country. Most have been peaceful. But at least 130 demonstrators who refused to disperse during a Los Angeles protest were arrested Wednesday night, while 35 people were detained in Oakland following a march that deteriorated into unrest and vandalism, according to police officials.
In Ferguson, about a 100 people marched in a light snow Wednesday night, with no major confrontations or property damage, and only two arrests. Troops with rifles were posted at intersections and parking lots in an area where stores were looted and burned.
The footage people see on the news "is such a small bit of what's happening here," Kari Hobbs, 28, told The Associated Press on Wednesday. "There's so much donation and charity going on with the businesses that have been affected and the people that have been affected."
Jerome Jenkins runs Cathy's Kitchen restaurant with his wife, the namesake. Their business is near the police department and had its windows smashed this week. He said he never considered closing his doors.
"It really wasn't about wondering if the building would get torched or not," Jenkins said Wednesday. "Me and my wife, we expected it to get damaged ... we decided to go home, and we would live with whatever fate would give us."