Ferguson state of emergency ends after days of protests

Last Updated Aug 14, 2015 11:27 AM EDT

FERGUSON, Mo. -- St. Louis County has lifted the state of emergency that was imposed in Ferguson and the surrounding area after shootings during protests to mark the anniversary of Michael Brown's death.

County Executive Steve Stenger's announcement Friday followed the third straight night of calm in the St. Louis suburb. Stenger said in a statement that police will remain vigilant.

"After reviewing the events of the past four evenings, under the state of emergency, I am pleased to report our law enforcement officers have established order while preventing further acts of violence in Ferguson," Stenger said in the statement.

Stenger issued a state of emergency Monday, putting St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar in charge of security, after gunfire and violence erupted during demonstrations related to the anniversary of the 18-year-old Brown's death.

Brown, who was black, was fatally shot by white Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9, 2014. A St. Louis County grand jury and the U.S. Department of Justice cleared Wilson, but Brown's death spurred a national "Black Lives Matter" movement.

Larry Miller, organizer of the protest group Ferguson Freedom Fighters, said Wednesday he wasn't convinced much had been accomplished in the latest round of demonstrations.

"We already know what needs to be happening is not happening," Miller said. "We're still bothered over the killing of Mike Brown because we still need police reform, criminal justice system reform."

A tense moment came Tuesday when a few dozen people briefly blocked traffic. But several officers in riot gear, along with Belmar, quickly moved to break it up.

Police said they made no arrests.

The events had largely been peaceful until Sunday night, when gunfire erupted and 18-year-old Tyrone Harris Jr. was shot by officers after they say he fired at an unmarked police van. Harris is hospitalized in critical condition and has been charged with 10 felonies.

St. Louis County police on Tuesday released a 13-second clip of security camera footage they say shows Harris minutes before he fired at plainclothes officers. The clip shows a person police identify as Harris grabbing a handgun from his waistband and running toward a parking lot, police say in response to the other shots being fired.

Harris' father, who disputed the police account Monday, told The Associated Press by telephone Wednesday that he expects his son to survive. Tyrone Harris Sr. declined to discuss the shooting or his son's condition, citing the advice of his attorney, whom he would not identify.

The gunfire and Harris' shooting set the city on edge and had protest leaders worried that tensions would escalate. After the state of emergency was declared Monday, the police presence was far greater. Officers lined several blocks of West Florissant. Unlike Sunday, there was no gunfire, no injuries and no reports of looting or property damage.

Still though, more than 20 people were arrested. Police never deployed smoke or tear gas, though they were at times pelted with water bottles and rocks.

By Tuesday night, there was far less tension. Police said in a statement that at one point, officers reported rocks being thrown at them. They took no action, and the rock-throwing stopped.

Even when armed members of the Oath Keepers, a far-right anti-government activist group whose presence Belmar has called "both unnecessary and inflammatory," appeared, there was little conflict.

While one member was being interviewed by media, several protesters gathered around and chanted loud enough to drown him out. Later, several Oath Keepers and protesters argued, but eventually shouting gave way to conversation, and the group parted ways with a pat on the back.