POLITICS
04/30/2015 12:56 am ET

Ferguson Protests Flare As Baltimore Reignites The Cause

FERGUSON, Mo. -- Hundreds of protesters gathered on the main street and in front of the city police department for a second consecutive night Wednesday, the day after demonstrators hurled rocks at police vehicles and set fire to a portable toilet. Three people were shot, police said.

The Ferguson demonstrations, to show solidarity with Baltimore protests against Freddie Gray's fatal injury in police custody there, began Tuesday, with hundreds gathered on West Florissant, the center of Ferguson protests last fall against the police killing of unarmed teenager Michael Brown. Once rocks began flying, a line of officers herded protesters away and warned on a loudspeaker that they may be subject to arrest and "chemical munitions.” Three people were hospitalized with gunshot wounds and a 20-year-old was arrested, police said.

Wednesday's protest was largely peaceful.

This week's demonstrations began as they did last fall, with chants, songs and blocked streets. But as Tuesday's protest wore into the evening, peacefulness gave way to turbulence, as have many Ferguson nights since Brown's killing in August.

The Ferguson outburst followed visits to the city by Obama administration officials and famed rapper Will.i.am.

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro on Wednesday stopped at the Ferguson community center to announce the government had designated North St. Louis and St. Louis County as a promise zone, which can prioritize federal grants.

“We live in a time when brain power truly is the new currency for success," Castro told the crowd. "Our most precious assets in this nation are our young people, who hold the hope of continuing to make the United States the strongest nation in the world."

Days earlier, Megan Smith, the chief U.S technology officer, and Grammy award-winning artist Will.i.am visited Feguson’s McCluer South Berkeley High School to encourage students to continue studies in STEM -- science, technology, engineering and mathmatics. Both preached positive change through education.

Will.i.am said he will help fund a STEM program for Ferguson-Florissant School District.

“We did this so you guys can have tools for the environment because if you don’t take science, or some engineering degree, or mathematics, Ferguson will just end up like Ferguson,” he said. ”Because ain’t nobody coming unless something’s burning. The only way to change it, is it for you to change it yourself.”

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