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44 arrested as Ferguson protesters torch cars, trash buildings in second night of tension

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Posted at 6:40 AM, Nov 26, 2014
and last updated 2014-11-26 06:56:36-05

FERGUSON, Missouri (CNN) -- Like the night before, the tension here got thicker with every tick of the clock Tuesday.

Protesters, kept at bay all evening by riot police and the National Guard, got restive. It was cold. It was late.

Some flipped over a police cruiser briefly, broke out its windows and set it on fire. Police moved in quickly to snuff it out.

The acrid smell of pepper spray filled the air. Eyes were burning. Throats were scratching.

Protesters flood streets across U.S. as Ferguson dismay spreads coast to coast

Vandals broke windows and trashed businesses, and St. Louis County police said protesters hurled bottles of "what appears to be urine" at them.

So went another night in Ferguson, where demonstrators have been protesting Monday's grand jury decision not to indict a white police officer in the death of an unarmed black teen.

Police stepped in to warn the crowds to disperse.

"Refuse to leave and you will be subject to arrest," a voice warned.

Forty-four people were arrested and officers said they seized a Molotov cocktail.

A car was set ablaze at a parking lot near Brown's memorial, but sporadic gunfire in the area stopped officers from responding, said St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar.

"I feel people have every right to get violent. It's a form of retaliation," said Shannon White. "People are tired of being treated this way by the system."

Nationwide protests

It wasn't just Ferguson.

Outrage over the grand jury's decision escalated from coast to coast, with protests in about 170 cities nationwide.

From New York to Los Angeles and dozens and dozens of cities in between, protesters flooded the streets to denounce the grand jury's decision. Some demonstrations blocked bridges, tunnels and major highways. But the protests were largely peaceful.

"They have given us no justice! We will give them no peace," protesters chanted as they massed in front of the Underground Atlanta shopping mall.

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. "We may have lost round one, but the fight is not over."

Darren Wilson speaks out

Meanwhile, in his first interview since the fatal shooting, police Officer Darren Wilson maintained that he killed Brown, 18, out of fear for his life during their encounter on August 9.

In the interview with ABC News, he said his response had nothing to do with race.

"I know I did my job right," he said.

Repeating what he told a grand jury investigating the shooting, Wilson said Brown reached into his police vehicle and grabbed for his gun.

"I just felt the immense power that he had. And then the way I've described it is, it was like a 5-year-old holding onto Hulk Hogan. That's just how big this man was," Wilson said. "He was very large, very powerful man."

Avoiding a repeat

Back in Ferguson, authorities were determined Tuesday to prevent a repeat of Monday night's violence.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon ordered additional National Guard troops to the area, boosting their numbers from 700 to 2,200.

"We are not your enemy," protesters chanted Tuesday night at officers who stood in full riot gear. "We just want justice."

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."

Cleaning up

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.

Also Tuesday, St. Louis police identified a man who was found shot to death and set on fire.

Belmar told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch newspaper that he isn't discounting the possibility that the death was linked to Monday night's violence.

Deandre Joshua, 20, was found behind the wheel of a Pontiac in a parking lot, just down the street from Canfield Green Apartments where Brown was killed.

Joshua had been shot in the head, police said. An accelerant was used to light him on fire, but the fire went out on its own, police said. He had burns to his arm, fingers and both legs.