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35 arrested in Ferguson protest

Police said demonstrators threw rocks, bricks and bottles when prevented from walking onto interstate

A planned highway shutdown fell through on Wednesday as a wall of officers in riot gear kept people protesting the Ferguson police shooting from walking onto Interstate 70 in a nearby St. Louis suburb during the late afternoon commute.

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State troopers and St. Louis city and county officers warned the roughly 150 demonstrators who gathered to stay out of the road as they protested last month's shooting of Michael Brown, a black, unarmed 18-year-old, by a white officer. There were nearly as many officers as demonstrators.

Highway Patrol Sgt. Al Nothum said that 35 people were arrested, most on charges of unlawful assembly. Nothum said protesters threw rocks, concrete blocks, bricks and bottles, leading to four charges of assault on a law enforcement officer.

A smaller group later went to the nearby Ferguson police station before a heavy, late afternoon thunderstorm dispersed most of the protesters.

The crowd included about 20 union workers who operate public transit buses and trains for the region's Metro system.

"We're out here to show support," said Antoin Johnson, 30. "We feel that an injustice has been done."

About 120 miles away in Jefferson City, the killing of Michael Brown briefly dominated a veto override session at the Missouri Capitol, where a state senator who represents parts of Ferguson called Gov. Jay Nixon a "coward" for his initial response to Brown's death.

Democratic state Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, a vocal critic of Nixon, said the governor "stood by and did nothing until this became a global story."

Nixon has come under heavy criticism for his perceived slowness in response to the shooting and its subsequent looting and unrest. He eventually called out the National Guard.

Nixon has declined to second-guess his actions, saying Brown's death didn't initially appear to be the sort of situation that a governor should inject himself into.

Wednesday's protest near Ferguson followed a tense meeting of the city's elected leaders Tuesday night. The Ferguson City Council held its first meeting since Brown was killed, hoping to use the gathering as a chance to promote community healing. Instead they were met with anger and warnings from constituents that council members would be voted out of office.

The Associated Press

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