(FERGUSON, Mo.) — Each day when the nightly violence in Ferguson, Missouri, subsides, Erma Dupree and other volunteers descend on the tense town’s streets to sweep up the broken glass, shell casings and flung bottles.
Dupree, 55, has been driving from her St. Louis home to Ferguson every day since last Monday.
“I clean up the streets for about three hours during the day. I don’t want to be around that area at night because of the tear gas being fired at the riots,” Dupree said.
“It was just horrific. There was more broken glass than I’ve ever seen in my life,” Dupree said. “I even saw bullet shells.”
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“I found bottles of all kinds of alcohol that people use to make [Molotov] cocktails,” Dupree said. “There is paper torn off from stuff people stole from those vandalized stores.”
“I feel like this is what is going on between Ukraine and Russia. You see it on TV, but you never imagine this will happen in front of your own door,” Dupree said.
“It’s just…oh… so chaotic,” she added.
Dupree said she is not the only volunteer sweeping the streets following the angry outbursts. Others have joined her, trying to preserve the shattered town as best as they could.
“We don’t even know each other. We just took several brooms, got together, and started sweeping together,” Dupree said.
Dupree said the police officers she encountered this morning were “kind-hearted,” although she said that in the past she has met officers who have been “racist.”
She had words of encouragement and warning to the angry black population of Ferguson.
“This is a wake up call for black people not just in Missouri, but nationwide,” Dupree said.
“This is going to affect a lot of our children,” Dupree said. “After all the efforts by the activists, we can’t just give up here.”
Dupree also said the violent protesters should not use this incident as an excuse to loot stores.
“I want to tell them: ‘Remember, karma goes around and comes back around,’” Dupree said. “What they are doing is not fair to the Brown’s family.”
The Ferguson Mayor’s Office did not immediately respond to ABC News for a comment.
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