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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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November 25th, 2014
05:45 PM ET

Ferguson: How did we get here?

By CNN chief Washington correspondent Jake Tapper and Kim Berryman

(CNN) – The day after in Ferguson. Stores and livelihoods, and people's dreams were destroyed - looted, trashed and torched.

How did we get here?

Last night was one of palpable disappointment and anger.

Presser: that no probable cause exists to file any charge against officer wilson

Protesters were sad, anguished, furious that Officer Darren Wilson will not face any charges in the killing of Michael Brown.

Police were disappointed that unrest spilled over into destruction.

"I didn't see a lot of peaceful protests out there tonight and I'm disappointed," said St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar.

And the President went largely unheard, at least by the violent demonstrators he attempted to appeal to in the midst of it all.

"Hurting others or destroying property is not the answer," he said Monday night.

The protesters were oblivious to his calls for calm

Before the grand jury decision was announced, hundreds gathered in front of the Ferguson Police Department.

"Disperse now or you will be subject to arrest," police told the crowd. "If you assault officers by throwing rocks or other objects you will be subject to arrest."

But the crowd grew more reckless, destroying police cars and even setting them on fire.

It was surreal covering this. In my earpiece, I heard President Obama pleading for peace and encouraging the media to focus on the positive.

"We have to make sure that we focus at least as much attention on all those positive activities that are taking place as we do on a handful of folks who end up using this as an excuse to misbehave," the President said.

True, most in Ferguson were not here rioting. Most were at home but the disconnect was jarring. It was as if I was listening to a speech from another time, or from another planet, far from this one

Fewer than two hours after the grand jury's decision was announced, tear gas was used to clear the streets.

Even while police Twitter accounts insisted they were only shooting smoke, that was not the case.

Pushed down the street, we witnessed the devastation of a city block, vandalized and looted. A woman, a local pastor, pleaded with those stealing from Beauty World to stop. They didn't listen.

Cars pulled up with people struggling to deal with the tear gas.

As the gas affected more demonstrators, some became enraged at the scene unfolding.

"They throw gas on the girl! She's passed out!!! And they start throwing tear gas at the crowd!" a protester named Angel told us.

Frustrations of the fractured community were clear.

"We're tired of this, you all should have seen this coming. Now it's here. United States, stand up with us!" Angel said.

While in downtown Ferguson, businesses were being burned, at one point we began filming two men with bricks in their hands, and we too were attacked.

It was the kind of scene Ferguson officials said they had prepared for but hoped to avoid.

"If we are going to survive at all, we're going to have to come together. What happened tonight can't continue on. If we're going to come together and be better, we have to come together and make some changes," said Missouri State Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson.

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