Situation In Ferguson Growing Calmer As Missouri Governor Enacts Midnight Curfew

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On Saturday afternoon, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency in Ferguson following a night filled with looting. Nixon enacted a curfew in the city, specifically the area of the city where protests have occurred every evening. The curfew covers the hours between midnight and 5 AM. During those hours, protesters have been informed that the police will move in and force people off of the street. The curfew does not have an expiration date at this point. Captain Ron Johnson, who is now in charge of security in Ferguson, promises that he would not use militarized tactics to enforce the curfew.

As in the days past, protests during the day Saturday were largely peaceful. Despite intermittent rain, a large number of people gathered around the destroyed QuikTrip, which has become Ground Zero for the demonstrations in Ferguson. As midnight approached, nearly all of the demonstrators had left. However, there was a very small group of young men that organized and declared that they wouldn’t leave and were apparently prepared to confront the police head on. Per St. Louis Alderman Antonio French, who engaged the group, some of the men were armed.

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The small group gathered in the parking lot of a barbecue restaurant as well as on top of the building. They were prepared to fire upon police. It was overheard during the night that there were anti-government activists from out of town that were at least partially responsible for this attempt at an organized altercation with police. At around 1 AM, after hearing shots fired and seeing a man critically injured in the neck on the street, police finally decided to utilize tear gas to disperse the demonstrators at the barbecue restaurant. Seven arrests were made during the evening and the injured man was taken to a nearby hospital. By early morning, the streets were clear.

French, who has been extremely critical of overreach by police during previous protests, said that Johnson had no choice but to order his force to use tear gas and move in on the group. The alderman said the group was defiant and wasn’t going to budge, and they were there to have a direct confrontation with police. Early Sunday morning, French sent out a tweet saying there is a major difference between protesters and those using the protest opportunistically.

 

Overall, the response to Nixon’s curfew has been largely positive within the Ferguson community. Residents, protesters and community leaders all agree that city needs to return to a sense of normalcy and late-night demonstrations, violence and looting are not having any positive impact regarding the investigation into the shooting death of Mike Brown. The parents of Brown have given their support for the curfew. The reality of the situation is that protests during the day are peaceful, productive and allow people to make their voice heard. Events later in the evening have allowed opportunists to take advantage of the situation and cause damage to local businesses and property. Worse than that, images of violence and looting take away from the greater cause.

Sunday looks to be another busy day in and around Ferguson. At least 40 FBI agents will continue to canvass the neighborhoods looking for any additional eyewitnesses to Brown’s shooting. They initially hit the scene Saturday. Rev. Al Sharpton broadcast his national radio show live from a Ferguson church Sunday morning. Also, he will hold a rally at another church in Ferguson Sunday afternoon.

 

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