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Ferguson angles to avoid fate of riot-torn cities |

Ferguson angles to avoid fate of riot-torn cities

FERGUSON, Mo. — Commercial districts in Detroit, Newark and Washington were ravaged by civil unrest in the 1960s, leading to decades of economic stagnation. In Ferguson, business owners are seeking to avert a similar fate.

As law enforcement struggles to restore order, merchants assessing damage from arson and looting said they’re growing anxious over how long it will take to rebuild from unrest sparked by a grand jury’s decision not to charge a white police officer who shot an unarmed, black 18-year-old.

A volunteer group, STL Forward, recognizing the danger of inaction, has started an advertising campaign promoting commerce that features a figure personally linked to the killing.

“I do not want my son’s death to be in vain,” Michael Brown Sr., father of the victim, said in a video. “I want it to lead to incredible change. Positive change. Change that makes the St. Louis region better for everyone.”

Among the first steps is repairing the physical damage.

Officials of the Missouri Department of Insurance met with business owners at the Ferguson Public Library to help merchants file claims.

At least a dozen buildings were burned to the ground Monday and scores of windows were broken in the hours after a St. Louis County prosecutor announced that police Officer Darren Wilson wouldn’t be charged in the death of Michael Brown.

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