As civil unrest entered the 10th day on Monday, people from across the region and the country converged on Ferguson seeking answers and to show their support for the family of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager who was fatally shot by a white police officer.
Nightly protests, often punctuated by violence, looting and tear gas, have played out on television screens across America, prompting some to travel here from as far away as New York and New Mexico.
Kent Henry and his wife, Carla Henry, of Belleville, went to the spot where Brown was shot by the officer, who was identified last week as Darren Wilson, a six-year veteran of the force. Henry said he was moved to tears as he looked at the spot.
"I weep for the parents. I am sorry this young man was cut down. I can't help but to think about his mom and dad getting up everyday without their child. It's so sad," he said, wiping tears from his face.
Carla Henry said, "The eyes of the nation are on us right now. What we do as a community may set a new precedent."
Joe and Bree Courtney, of Alton, who are white, brought their two sons, Reiley, 6, and Bryce, 10, to the protest scene. The Courtneys were wearing the now famous "Hands Up Don't Shoot" T-shirts that many protesters are wearing.
"In my teen years, I got into a lot of trouble. I got locked up. But, I have completely turned my life around. But, I know how hard it is for people from communities like this. The law in our streets is getting out of hand. They (police) judge people before they have the chance to prove themselves not guilty," Courtney said.
Deray McKesson said he drove to Ferguson from Minnesota because he could no longer sit at home and watch the transpirings on television. The fight for justice for young black men and black people all over America was his fight, too. That could have been him, he said.
"Why is black life not valued the same? We are human beings and Americans. We feel we are being denied our constitutional rights."
A woman from Chicago said she couldn't stay at home and not come and be a part of the protest. Staycie Flint, who is a chaplain with a hospital, said, "the police should not be the judge, the courts should let the process work."
Lydia Groenendyk, who is Hispanic, said she drove 15 hours from New Mexico to be a part of the protest because she's tired of police brutality.
In 2010, there were 24-police related killings in her state, she said. "There's a complete lack of control. Police are shooting people because they feel they can get away with it. This has to stop."
Juanita Young, of New York, said her son was killed 14 years ago by a police officer. He was 23. The district attorney refused to take that case to the grand jury.
"I came here because I feel the mother's pain I wanted to talk to her because the closeness in age between her son and mine, and the way they died."
Monday morning, people reacted to a variety of speakers during a rally at the Greater St. Mark Church in Ferguson, among them Michael Baden, a pathologist hired by the family who performed a second autopsy on the body of the 18-year-old Brown. He said Brown was shot six times, including twice in the head. People gathered for the press conference gasped aloud.
Baden used a poster board with the image of a body on it, highlighting six bullet wounds to the body. Four of the wounds were sustained in Brown's right arm and Baden said he could have survived those wounds.
That's where the community outrage is coming from, many in the crowd kept repeating: that a young black man's life was ended by "an over zealous cop."
Missouri State Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal decried police throwing tear gas on people who were part of a peaceful demonstration. "I think it was pre-meditated. It leads me to think it is their intention to rev up the crowd," she said. Chappelle-Nadal joined the voices who are calling for Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson to resign.
Police said they were forced to use tear gas Sunday night after being shot at by protesters, who also threw Molotov cocktails in the area where police were holding a line outside a makeshift command center.
She also told the crowd that Gov. Jay Nixon bringing in the National Guard is going to make Ferguson "become the next Kent State." A continued heavy police presence is going to bring even more tension between the protesters and the police, she said.
Many protesters like Bryon Waters said the black community views Jackson releasing a convenience store surveillance video that supposedly showed Brown stealing a box of cigars and choking the store clerk as an attempt to discredit Brown.
"He was trying to assassinate Michael Brown's character and shift the focus away from the fact that Michael Brown was murdered by his police officer," said Waters. We are talking about two different situations. And since when does stealing cigars mean you get a death sentence?? It's llke comparing mayonnaise to jelly -- you can't."
The shooting has inflamed the community like nothing seen here before.
The protesters hoisted and carried signs saying, "Enough is Enough. My Blackness is not a Weapon. Hands up. Don't shoot. I am somebody's son and my parents and family love me, too. We need justice now."
Others said "End Police Brutality now. Michael Brown -- We will never forget."