US police arrested at least two protesters in Ferguson, Missouri, early on Friday as tensions mount ahead of a grand jury decision on whether to indict a white policeman for the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager.
Several protesters gathered for the second night on Thursday evening outside the Ferguson police station in freezing conditions, calling for criminal charges against Darren Wilson for killing Michael Brown on August 9.
Demonstrators waved placards and chanted “Whose streets? Our streets!” and “Killer cops have got to go!”
Riot police in helmets and shields charged the protesters after being ordered not to block traffic. At least one man and a woman were handcuffed and taken away following brief scuffles.
The arrests followed five made on Wednesday night after police approached a crowd of protesters chanting and blocking traffic.
Brown’s death triggered weeks of protests and clashes between police and demonstrators in Ferguson. At times, the police used unnecessary and disproportionate force.
Missouri Governor Jay Nixon has declared a 30-day state of emergency and called in 400 National Guard troops to support local police.
Human Rights Watch, a leading international human rights organization based in New York, has warned police departments to allow peaceful assembly and avoid using excessive force in the event of renewed protests.
Rights activists say they would conduct separate rallies at federal courthouses across the US regardless of the grand jury’s decision and have called for federal charges to be brought against Wilson if he does not face state charges.