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Ferguson erupts as cop escapes charge

Residents riot after grand jury opts to let off Brown killer

Residents rioted in the US town of Ferguson until the early hours of this morning after a grand jury decided not to charge the white police officer who shot dead black teen Michael Brown in August.

Protesters set buildings ablaze and looted shops in the suburb of St Louis, Missouri, following the verdict.

Police faced an explosion of violence. Officers were shot at and pelted with rocks and other objects and, by 2.30am, 12 buildings were ablaze, said St Louis police department chief Jon Belmar.

He said he had counted 150 gunshots. But police did not return fire and no-one was killed, although 61 demonstrators were arrested.

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon called in additional National Guard forces to restore order.

President Barack Obama and Mr Brown's family appealed in vain for calm after prosecutor Robert McCulloch said that a grand jury had found the policeman acted in self-defence in shooting the 18-year-old.

The St Louis prosecuting attorney claimed that officer Darren Wilson had fired 12 times after getting into an "altercation" with Mr Brown and said the jury had found no grounds for charges.

He told reporters the evidence presented to the jury had shown Mr Wilson had shot as a legitimate act of self-defence during a tussle that broke out as he was responding to a robbery.

As Mr McCulloch rounded off his summary, Mr Brown's mother burst into tears and the crowd outside the police headquarters began to chant: "Hey, hey, ho, ho, killer cops have got to go," throwing bottles and stones.

Looters smashed their way into a mobile phone shop opposite the headquarters and ransacked it.

Riot officers responded with tear gas, batons and stun grenades and running battles broke out in the streets of Ferguson, with armoured cars moving through the area.

Elsewhere in the US, thousands of people rallied late into the night in cities including Los Angeles and New York.

They marched, waved signs and chanted: "Hands up, don't shoot."

The refrain has become a rallying cry across the US.

Meanwhile, an online funding campaign to secure legal representation for people arrested during the disturbances approached the $50,000 (£32,000) mark, double the original target.

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