Thursday brought another night of calm to the streets of Ferguson.
One group that numbered about 100 at its peak marched up and down West Florissant Avenue, adding drumbeats to familiar protest chants. But many others just mingled on the sidewalk without any interference from police.
"It's very peaceful tonight," said Evelyn Wellington, who was among the watchers. "The police aren't bothering anybody, nobody's bothering the police, they're allowing us to rally. I love this."
Tensions flared briefly when a group of clergy acting as peacekeepers asked a group watching a freestyle rap performance to keep moving to comply with a police directive. But in the end, a majority of the group did so, with one young member even taking the chance to talk to the police about the order to not congregate.
One of the peacekeepers, Paris Caldwell, hoped the last three nights were a sign that things are getting better.
"“I hope it kind of stays not as roller-coaster-ish," she said. "But as long as it plateaus to OK, everyone’s still peaceful, fine. Protest until your heart desires." Caldwell said she expects protests to continue until Darren Wilson, the Ferguson police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown, is arrested and charged with murder.
Missouri State Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson, who is in charge of security in Ferguson, said police made seven arrests by 12:30 a.m., mostly for failure to disperse. Three of those taken into custody were from Detroit. Johnson said police did not recover any handguns from those arrested.
"The change is related to a lot of hard work by the citizens of this community, the citizens of the state, and the men and women of law enforcement who have been out here in a dedicated effort to make this community safe," he said.
In another sign that the security situation may be improving, Gov. Jay Nixon announced Thursday that he would gradually reduce the number of Missouri National Guard troops in Ferguson. They have been guarding a police command center.
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