As midnight approaches, the tension here gets thicker. Everyone fears that just like Monday, things could turn violent at any moment.
Outside the City Hall, crowds flip a police cruiser on its side briefly, broke out its windows, then set it on fire. Police move in quickly to put it out. They use pepper gas and tell the crowd over loudspeakers to disperse.
“Refuse to leave and you will be subject to arrest,” the voice says.
“Let’s go,” some in the crowd shout as they disperse.
National Guardsmen in full riot gear stand in a line at the Ferguson Police Department. In front of them, a row of police officers, also in riot gear. Just one lane of road separates them from hundreds of protesters.
“We are not your enemy,” they chanted. “We just want justice.”
Despite the building tension, people say they are not afraid to come out and “stand up against injustice.”
“I feel people have every right to get violent. It’s a form of retaliation,” said Shannon White, 20. “People are tired of being treated this way by the system.”
Veronica Wintersheidt, 29, and her husband braved cold temperatures to show their solidarity.
“We live in a world of white privilege,” she said. “So it’s difficult for us to judge.”
Cars pass the protesters honking their horns. Every few minutes, the crowd eruptsin chants of “Mike Brown.”
At one point, protest organizers attempted to call for four and a half minutes of silence to honor Brown — his body lay on the street for four and half hours after he was shot . But the crowd was too restless, too worked up to remain quiet.
Earlier in the day, volunteers helped clean up vandalized stores and eateries and board up broken windows and doors.
Some residents carried guns and said volunteers were out protecting houses on the streets off South Florissant Road.
Armed men carrying assault rifles paced the roof of Beauty World, a store that was badly damaged in Monday’s protests.
Customers inside Marley’s said they were not afraid to be out even as the noise of police sirens and helicopters fill the air. This was, they said, their community, and no one was going to take it away from them.
CNN saw two protesters arrested after they refused to get out of the street. Most others returned to the sidewalk when asked to do so by police.
Avoiding a repeat
Throughout the day, authorities scrambled resources in a bid to prevent a repeat of the violence that erupted in the wake of the grand jury’s decision in the Michael Brown shooting.
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon ordered additional National Guardsmen to the area, boosting their numbers from 700 to 2,200.
“We are bringing more resources to Ferguson and other parts of the region to prevent a repetition of the lawlessness experienced overnight,” the governor said. “We must do better and we will.”
Demonstrations devolved into chaos late Monday after it was announced that the grand jury had decided not to indict Darren Wilson in the shooting death of 18-year-old Brown. Wilson, a white police officer, shot and killed Brown, a black teenager, on August 9.
In Ferguson, buildings were burned. Stores were looted and shots were fired. Activists also took to streets across the country, with dozens and dozens of protests in several states.
“They have given us no justice! We will give them no peace,” protesters chanted as they massed in front of the Underground Atlanta shopping district in Atlanta.
In the New York area, they briefly blocked one of the entrances to the Lincoln Tunnel.
“We are on the side of Michael Brown to fight for what is right,” the Rev. Al Sharpton said in front of Brown’s family, earlier Tuesday. “…. “We may have lost round one, but the fight is not over.”
The vast majority of protests in the weeks after Brown’s death have been peaceful. And authorities hope to keep it that way.
“All agree that the violence we saw in the areas of Ferguson last night cannot be repeated,” Nixon said.