FERGUSON, Mo., Nov 28(Reuters) - Protesters in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson on Friday planned to clean up a drugstore damaged in this week’s racially charged rioting but a line of police and National Guard troops blocked the entrance.
The Walgreen Co. store was one of several buildings that were looted or burned on Monday after a decision by a grand jury not to indict a white police officer in the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager in August.
Ferguson was quiet on Thursday night with National Guard troops and Humvees posted at previous trouble spots.
The National Guard had closed off a large parking lot in front of a Walmart store in north St. Louis Thursday night, as authorities anticipated the possibility of demonstrations there on Black Friday, the traditional opening of the holiday shopping season.
Ferguson became the focal point of a national debate on race relations after police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown, 18, on Aug. 9. The U.S. Justice Department is investigating possible civil rights abuses and President Barack Obama has called for reflection on the difficulties minorities face in the country.
But for the most part, Ferguson was quiet on Thursday and protests also dwindled elsewhere in the United States as the Thanksgiving Day holiday and wintry weather kept many indoors.
In New York, at least seven people were arrested during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade through Manhattan, police said, after protesters had vowed on social media to disrupt the event to protest the Ferguson ruling.
In Los Angeles, about 90 protesters arrested earlier in the week were released in time for Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday.
The grand jury’s decision on Monday not to charge Wilson sparked protests in Ferguson and more than 100 people were taken into custody on Monday and Tuesday nights. Buildings were torched, stores looted and police in riot gear used tear gas to disperse crowds. Only two arrests were reported Wednesday.
Wilson, who was placed on administrative leave, has said he feared for his life and was acting in self-defense when he shot Brown. Brown’s family said Wilson acted with malice and should stand trial.
A group of about 75 protesters marched peacefully around the Walmart store in the nearby suburb of St. Charles to the bemusement of bargain-hunters pushing brimming shopping carts. The crowd dispersed peacefully after police ordered them to go home.
Ferguson is a predominantly black city of about 21,000 people where almost all the political leaders and police are white.
In the area around the police department, the scene of the worst violence, a different scene emerged earlier on Thursday. With no protesters in sight and a minimal police presence on a cold day, residents boarded up stores to patch up broken glass and protect windows still intact.
Some painted murals on the plywood boarding while passing cars honked in support.
Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, who declared a state of emergency before the grand jury decision, has deployed about 2,200 National Guard troops to the Ferguson area to quell violence.
Additional reporting by Emily Flitter in Ferguson, Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles, and Barbara Goldberg in New York; Writing by Jon Herskovitz and Frank McGurty; Editing by Bill Trott