FERGUSON, Mo. — The streets of Ferguson saw pockets of violence during protests Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning but on the whole the shaken St. Louis suburb was more peaceful than in recent days, police said.
"Tonight, the elders in the community, volunteers, activists and the clergy came out in large numbers," Capt. Ron Johnson of the Missouri State Highway Patrol said Wednesday during a press conference. "They walked and talked with people. They urged order," he said.
Johnson said that overall the protests occurred in a less confrontational manner than had been seen in recent days. "Tonight we saw a different dynamic. There were no Molotov cocktails, no shootings," he said. However, Johnson also said that 47 protesters were arrested and that threats were made to kill an officer.
Earlier, the latest night of protests in Ferguson began peacefully as hundreds of protesters marched up and down West Florissant Avenue. The situation was calm until just before midnight when a glass bottle was thrown at police. Officers then ordered the protesters to disperse and rushed into the crowd in pursuit of a suspect.
Tensions mounted as tactical units and armored vehicles arrived on the scene. Police and members of the Missouri National Guards began arresting several individuals in the crowd and maced some protesters after the order to disperse was given. They rushed into a McDonald's parking lot with guns trained on protesters, singling out suspects for arrest.
Police instructed protesters that they must keep the march moving and told those who did not wish to keep walking that they could rest in the media staging area.
"I'm not here for exercise," one protester yelled at police.
Another, Ned Alexander IV, 25, of St. Louis, was one of the protesters who refused to leave after multiple orders to do so by police. Tuesday was Alexander's fourth night of protesting and he said he plans to have many more nights of demonstrating.
"I'm going to sit out here all night, tomorrow night and the night after that," Alexander said.
Desmond Hardy, 32, of St. Louis, also refused to leave when police ordered him to do so.
"They treat us like animals," said Hardy, a supervisor at an event space. "Some of us — including myself — are willing to die ... He (Darren Wilson) needs to be charged with murder and there needs to be a fair trial."
Later Wednesday, a local grand jury is expected to hear evidence in the fatal shooting of unarmed black teen Michael Brown, 18, by a police officer that has shaken this St. Louis suburb.
Edward Magee, spokesman for St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch, said local investigators have interviewed Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson, 28, and he will be "offered the opportunity'' to testify if he chooses.
Magee said the case will be presented to a regular grand jury that already has been seated. He said the panel has a few weeks remaining in its current term. He did not know how long it would take to present the case.
"We will extend the term, if necessary,'' Magee said.
A federal inquiry is also underway.
Attorney General Eric Holder on Tuesday promised a "fair and thorough'' investigation into the fatal shooting of Brown in an op-ed for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in advance of his trip to Ferguson on Wednesday.
Holder said he was traveling to the city to be briefed on the federal civil rights inquiry. He said "hundreds" of potential witnesses have been interviewed. He cautioned that the inquiry will "take time to complete."
"At a time when so much may seem uncertain, the people of Ferguson can have confidence that the Justice Department intends to learn — in a fair and thorough manner — exactly what happened,'' Holder wrote.
Meanwhile, local leaders issued a statement pleading for calm and promising changes in the police department.
"We plan to learn from this tragedy," city officials said in the statement. Officials are working to increase the number of black law enforcement applicants and raise funds for cameras for patrol car dashboards and officer vests, the statement said.
Ten days of protests and violence are taking their toll on this normally quiet St. Louis suburb of 21,000 people.
"This has to stop," Johnson said Tuesday.
Johnson is tasked with bringing peace to a city torn apart by violence since Brown was shot by Wilson on Aug. 9, setting off angry protests that have made international headlines.
Brown's funeral will be Monday, family lawyer Benjamin Crump said.
Contributing: William Cummings, Kevin Johnson and John Bacon.