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Ferguson protests dwindle as businesses regroup

By JIM SUHR

Associated Press ST. LOUIS (AP) - As demonstrations in California heated up overnight, the robust protests in Ferguson dwindled in size and severity as Thanksgiving approached, a change from the days immediately following the grand jury decision in the Michael Brown case.

People have begun cleaning up the battered suburban community of Ferguson and seeking something closer to normal. Meanwhile, a group gathered in downtown St. Louis on Thursday morning for what the organizer called a "pro-community" car cruise.

Organizer Paul Byrd said the cruise, which consisted of about five vehicles, was meant to be peaceful and to counteract the violence seen earlier this week in Ferguson after Officer Darren Wilson was not indicted in the fatal August shooting of 18-year-old Brown, who was black and unarmed.

Byrd, a 45-year-old construction worker from Imperial, Missouri, declined to say whether he supported Wilson but noted, "I totally support police officers." The cruise, which started near Busch Stadium, was escorted by a city police vehicle. No protesters showed up.

There were no reports of major confrontations or damage to property in Ferguson overnight - where about a 100 people marched in a light snow - and St. Louis County police said there were only two arrests. Troops with rifles were posted at intersections and parking lots in an area where stores were looted and burned Monday into Tuesday.

Since the grand jury's decision was announced, demonstrators have been active in other cities throughout the U.S. Most have been peaceful. But at least 130 demonstrators who refused to disperse during a Los Angeles protest were arrested Wednesday night, while 35 people were detained in Oakland following a march that deteriorated into unrest and vandalism, according to police officials.

Ferguson business owners and residents on Wednesday covered up broken windows, cleared away debris and hoped the relative calm would last into the Thanksgiving holiday.

The footage people see on the news "is such a small bit of what's happening here," said Kari Hobbs, 28. "There's so much donation and charity going on with the businesses that have been affected and the people that have been affected."

There were no seats inside Cathy's Kitchen - a restaurant near the Ferguson Police Department that had windows smashed during the violence - and a line had formed at the back of the building. Jerome Jenkins, who runs the restaurant with his wife, Cathy, said he never considered closing his doors.

"It really wasn't about wondering if the building would get torched or not," Jenkins said. "Me and my wife, we expected it to get damaged ... we decided to go home, and we would live with whatever fate would give us."

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Link to grand jury documents: http://hosted.ap.org/specials/interactives/_documents/ferguson-shooting/.

___

Associated Press writers Andale Gross, Tom Foreman Jr., Jim Salter, Alex Sanz and Alan Scher Zagier also contributed to this report.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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