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Indeed, Ferguson is not the kind of blighted urban landscape one might expect as the setting for race riots. The town of 22,000, part of a patchwork of municipalities around St. Louis, is hardly opulent, but does feature pleasant roads lined with mature trees and, for the most part, decently kept single family homes.

Then came a series of pops from the other end of the block, closer to where Mr. Brown died. Police would later say they had come under "heavy gunfire," two civilians had been shot and Molotov cocktails flung. I have no reason to doubt that, though saw none of it.


Bottles were flung, the armoured vehicles raced up and down, and dozens were arrested, before the scores of officers forced everyone from the scene.

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imposing SWAT trucks, manned by police in combat style gear, some with fierce looking mounted guns.

It was a similar story the next night, minus the tear gas. The armoured vehicles were a little more discreetly situated and the demonstration unfolded peacefully again until near midnight when, apparently, some rabble rousers began tossing bottles of water and even urine at officers.

Almost immediately, police ordered media to clear out, a somewhat disturbing command, given journalists' role to witness just such activity.

By Wednesday night, officers seemed to be learning their aggressive stance might be provoking trouble, not preventing it, and adopted a more relaxed posture.

What I actually observed were the clouds of tear gas. Like other media, I jogged toward the billowing vapour, before it forced us back again. Some protesters and journalists donned gas masks, others doused their eyes with milk of magnesia, which oddly enough is said to relieve the burning.

The mall has a Target store and a Schnucks supermarket, and now a parking lot packed with Reebok Gold police cruisers, SWAT trucks and Humvees.

By the time I arrived Monday evening, much had happened in Ferguson, including wild looting of businesses, lobbing of Molotov cocktails at police and other mayhem that would test any law enforcement contingent.

´╗┐Streets much quieter when police back off from aggressive stance

Several media colleagues, including a CTV reporter, were Reebok Mens Shoes

Even so, it was surprising to see the police show of force escalate sharply as the night wore on. Behind them stood three or four Saucony Dirty Snow On Feet

Protesters seemed sincerely angered by Mr. Brown's shooting, and not just because a young man on his way to college was dead. They said it resonated with their own experiences of being stopped by police for no apparent reason as they drove or walked the streets, treated at least as potential criminals just because of their colour.

Still, what I saw over the next few hours on West Florissant Street demonstration central was striking.

In this Aug. 13, 2014 file photo, a man watches as police walk through a cloud of smoke during a clash with protesters in Ferguson, Mo.

On the other side of the yellow tape is a rival encampment, with numerous satellite trucks and TV network posts. One Saucony Guide 6

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When I arrived, hundreds of people, almost all black, were walking slowly up and down, chanting slogans, many carrying roses or placards. Then there were the police, almost all white, clustering in groups along the route, watching but rarely interacting with demonstrators.

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The street where Michael Brown was shot Aug. 9 snakes through a complex of garden style apartments on neatly tended lots, with no sign of graffiti or other vandalism.

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day, the police commander crossed the line and did back to back interviews with celebrity CNN reporters Anderson Cooper and Don Lemon.

The first two nights I was here, peaceful, seemingly heartfelt protests basically disintegrated into pandemonium. I was forced to run with the protesters in chaotic bursts as gas was deployed or officers charged into the crowds, often aiming assault rifles and shotguns at anyone in their way.

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Sprinkled among the parents and clergymen and earnest activists were surely some less savoury characters intent on causing trouble.

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Covering this historic story can be a little surreal. Outside the turmoil that unfolded nightly on a single block, and a nearby mall parking lot that resembles a staging area for the Iraq invasion, life in this down market suburb carries on more or less normally.

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It was, in fact, a fairly typical night on Ferguson's protest row, a broad, rundown street where demonstrators meet a police presence more reminiscent of the military I followed in Afghanistan than a small American town.

I once covered a violent protest at the Ontario legislature in Toronto, where poverty activists openly brandished Molotov cocktails and tore up paving stones to hurl at police. I didn't see such provocation in Ferguson, so was taken aback as teams of officers sprinted repeatedly into the crowds, rifles and shotguns in firing position, as they tackled the bottle throwers and dragged them away.

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