FERGUSON, Mo. -- Police blocked off the central gathering place for protesters in this St. Louis suburb Monday in an attempt to prevent large crowds from forming there and getting out of control.
Protesters have convened at the QuikTrip, or QT, gas station and convenience store since the Aug. 9 death of Michael Brown at the hands of a Ferguson police officer. The day after the shooting, on Sunday night, the store was looted and set on fire.
Since the building was destroyed, the QT's parking lot has been a popular spot where protesters have mingled at night. Nearly every surface has been covered in graffiti either remembering Brown or criticizing police actions. Late at night, the QT has turned into somewhat of a party zone, with people drinking and the smell of marijuana wafting through the air. On many nights, a parade of cars -- some with as many as 14 people piled on top -- have passed along the street in front of the lot, honking their horns and blasting music.
On Sunday night, a line of heavily armed police officers spraying tear gas progressed just past the QT and found a dumpster that had been set on fire. A handful of people showed up early Monday morning to clean up the debris from the previous night. CNN and MSNBC both had tents at the QT on Monday and were doing live interviews, and protesters occasionally stopped by to catch up on what happened the night before and to plan for the day ahead. The Rev. Jesse Jackson spoke with people who had gathered there that day, as did St. Louis Alderman Antonio French, who has been a constant presence at the protests.
But around 10 a.m., police officers began telling people they could no longer loiter at the QT. They were allowed to congregate, police said, as long as they continued to move around. One officer, who did not give his name, said it was on the orders of Gov. Jay Nixon (D). Nixon's office did not return a request for additional comment. Police also told three young kids who were biking around the lot of the QT that they would have to move along.
A couple hours later, the police further restricted access to the lot, kicking everyone, including the media, off the property. They said it would remain off-limits Monday night as well.
Police also were enforcing the no-standing rule elsewhere on West Florissant Avenue, where the bulk of the protesting has been.
— Jason Hancock (@J_Hancock) August 18, 2014
— Ryan J. Reilly (@ryanjreilly) August 18, 2014
Community members anticipated there could be a tense situation Monday night, after Nixon on Monday morning announced he was calling in the National Guard. There will be no curfew, unlike the previous two nights, when people could have been arrested for being out between midnight and 5 a.m.
"I think the presence of the National Guard has the potential to escalate the situation even more, and I hope that doesn't happen," French told The Huffington Post Monday morning at the QT, while it was still accessible.
At least seven were arrested and two wounded Sunday night and into Monday morning during the clashes between protesters and police. According to the Missouri Highway Patrol, there had been molotov cocktails thrown at police long before the curfew, resulting in authorities tear-gassing the crowds and clearing West Florissant Avenue.See updates on the situation in Ferguson below:
08/26/2014 7:49 AM EDT
The Toll On Michael Brown's Family
USA Today's Yamiche Alcindor provides an intimate look at how Michael Brown's parents have been dealing with the loss of their son:
Phones constantly ring with reporters asking for interviews or family members offering support. Last week, as demands reached a tipping point, both parents moved into hotels to shield themselves.
In the days leading up to the funeral, Brown's mother continued to cry and spoke in whispers as she tried to explain her feelings.
"They say tomorrow is going to be the hardest day, but I think today was — just seeing my baby laying there, cold," Lesley McSpadden, 34, told USA TODAY. "It did something to my heart. It's too much. It's too much."
08/26/2014 7:44 AM EDT
New Audio Allegedly Captures Moment Michael Brown Was Shot
New audio has surfaced that allegedly captures the moment when Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, was shot dead by Darren Wilson, a white police officer, on Aug. 9.
CNN aired the unverified recording on Monday night. Six shots can be heard, followed by a pause, then several more. A private autopsy performed on Aug. 17 at the request of Brown's family found that the 18-year-old was shot 6 times, including twice in the head.
08/25/2014 12:58 PM EDT
Al Sharpton: America, It's Time To Deal With Policing
08/25/2014 12:53 PM EDT
Al Sharpton: All Of Us Are Required To Respond
Rev. Al Sharpton: All of us are required to respond to this #MikeBrownfuneral— HuffPost BlackVoices (@blackvoices) August 25, 2014
08/25/2014 12:48 PM EDT
Benjamin Crump: We Will Not Accept Three-Fifths Justice For Michael Brown
08/25/2014 12:28 PM EDT
Funeral Program Includes Tribute From Michael Brown's Parents
USA Today reporter, Yamiche Alcindor shares photo of program which includes tributes to Michael Brown from his mother and father
08/25/2014 12:22 PM EDT
Michael Brown's Stepmother: He Prophesied His Own Death
Stepmother of #MichaelBrown said the late teen "pretty much prophesied his own death and didn't realize it."— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) August 25, 2014