UK
15/08/2014 09:44 BST | Updated 15/08/2014 16:59 BST

Ferguson Police Finally Back Peaceful Protests In US After Five Nights Of Unrest

Police officers have walked hand-in-hand with protesters in a moving display of solidarity, just a night after shocking photographs highlighted the increasing militarisation of policing in America.

Just 24-hours after camouflaged officers were seen training automatic weapons at unarmed civilians, local police officers in Ferguson, Missouri, allowed a crowd to peacefully assemble without forcing them from the area.

READ MORE: Ferguson Protest Pictures In St Louis Show The Terrifying Militarisation Of The US Police

After four nights of violence, officers made an effort to mingle peacefully with people protesting the weekend shooting death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown by a police officer, as thousands held vigils across the US in honour of the black teenager.

Police filled the streets of Ferguson, St Louis, with tear gas, rubber bullets, heavily-armed SWAT teams and mine-resistant vehicles to repel protesting crowds Wednesday night.

In stark contrast on Thursday evening, state troopers and local police walked with protestors, shaking their hands.

"This is what we do," St. Louis Detective Kevin Bentley told The Huffington Post Thursday, contrasting his team's calm with the heightened tension earlier in the week. "The officers out here don't do that ... You can't be thin-skinned."

Following the announcement of a new law enforcement approach to security in Ferguson, journalists at the scene reported how the community appeared a completely different place when compared to the unrest of previous nights as violence raged on the streets of the sleepy suburb.

Captain Ronald Johnson of the Missouri Highway Patrol, an African-American who grew-up in the area, has been named as the new head of the operation.

He was pictured hugging and shaking hands with people he met as he walked among protesters.

"We all want justice. We all want answers," he said.

St Louis Major Ronnie Robinson told The Huffington Post that his team aimed to "bring peace and tranquility to this community."

"Intervention works," Robinson said. "You just can't have a heavy hand all the time. You have to be professional enough to be able to identify when you need to meet force with force. ... You've got to be able to communicate."

Others took to Twitter to show how much had changed overnight:

Elsewhere in the US, moments of silence and protests were held in New York, Chicago, Atlanta and elsewhere, five days after Michael Brown, 18, was fatally shot.

Organised by a New York-based social activist going by the alias of Feminista Jones, the movement started online with Twitter hashtag #NMO14, USA Today reports.

She told the paper that the demonstrations were to call attention excessive police force, such as is suspected with the Brown case.

"It's not just Ferguson. Police brutality is pervasive. It's happening in so many cities," Jones said, adding, "We're having a national moment of silence — one chord, one silent voice — to honour not only Mike Brown, not only Eric Garner, but all victims of police brutality, especially those who have lost their lives."

Scenes from the demonstrations flooded social media on Thursday night.

PEACEFUL PROTESTS OVER THE KILLING OF MICHAEL BROWN

PEACEFUL PROTESTS OVER THE KILLING OF MICHAEL BROWN