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U.S. Attorney General goes to Ferguson amid more violence

CNN

CNN

FERGUSON, Missouri (CNN) — Events are unfolding at a rapid pace in Ferguson, Missouri. The city has been in turmoil since August 9, when white city police officer Darren Wilson fatally shot Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager.

Protesters and law enforcement officers have clashed in the streets for several nights.

Here are the latest developments for Wednesday:

Violence but no looting, no tear gas

As midnight approached late Tuesday, it looked like protesters and police had managed to pull off a night of peace, but officers donned riot gear and formed a line in front of local businesses, commanding a crowd in a parking lot to clear out.

A bottle flew at the officers, setting off a powder keg of tensions, with police sprinting after and arresting people and more bottles flying at them — some plastic, some glass.

Highway patrol Capt. Ron Johnson told journalists that “criminals” had also thrown urine on police. Riot police presence ballooned, dogs and pepper spray came out briefly, and officers arrested 47 people.

Two guns were confiscated from a car.

But gone were the tear gas, rubber bullets, and Molotov cocktails that had marred protests overnight Monday.

The wheels of justice

After days of Ferguson residents and others around the country crying for justice for Michael Brown, the wheels grind forward Wednesday. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is scheduled visit the town, where there is a federal criminal civil rights investigation into the shooting.

And a Missouri state prosecutor may present his case against Officer Wilson to a grand jury Wednesday.

But critics say St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch may be biased in favor of the man he is tasked with prosecuting. McCulloch’s father was killed while working as a cop 50 years ago. His mother was a police clerk, and three relatives were also with St. Louis police. He wanted to be an officer, too, but cancer took one of his legs.

Michael Brown’s family:

Brown’s mother, Lesley McSpadden, told NBC’s “Today” show that the only way to end the unrest is “justice” — which her family and their supporters have repeatedly tied to the arrest of the police officer who killed Brown.

“Justice will bring peace, I believe,” McSpadden said.

The family’s attorney, Benjamin Crump, also announced that Brown’s funeral will be held Monday.

Criminal proceedings:

A grand jury could begin to hear testimony as early as Wednesday from witnesses, according to Ed Magee, a spokesman for the St. Louis County prosecutor’s office. They’ll ultimately decide whether to return an indictment against Wilson.

Federal investigation:

Holder will visit Ferguson Wednesday, in part to check on the investigation being handled by the Justice Department’s civil rights division and the local U.S. attorney’s office.

In an op-ed in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Holder said that a number of federal prosecutors and about 40 FBI agents have already been tasked with looking into the case. He said that hundreds of people have been interviewed and a team of medical examiners will conduct another autopsy on Brown’s body.

Prosecuting attorney protest:

Dozens protested Tuesday outside McCulloch’s office, demanding that he recuse himself in the case. The Mound City Bar Association — a Missouri-based organization that calls itself “one of the oldest black bar associations west of the Mississippi River” — did the same in a statement.

Some residents and community leaders claim McCulloch has deep ties to the police and has favored law enforcement in criminal cases.

Yet the prosecutor has given no indications that he’ll step down from the case.

School closures:

The situation remains so unstable that the Ferguson-Florissant School District said it is canceling classes for the rest of the week. Two nearby districts — Jennings and Riverview Gardens — opted to remain closed again Tuesday as well, according to CNN affiliate KMOV.

In light of the closure, the Ferguson-Florissant School District is offering food assistance — in the form of sack lunches — to children and teenagers at five elementary schools between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

The police officer:

Darren Wilson, 28, who has six years on the force with no disciplinary issues on his record, is on paid administrative leave. If he returns to duty, he would have to undergo two psychological evaluations, authorities said.

Wilson has garnered more and more public support in recent days. That includes a rally held for him in St. Louis and a fundraising effort that had raised more than $36,000 from nearly 1,000 people as of Tuesday.