Missouri Governor Orders National Guard Into Ferguson After Violent And Tumultuous Night

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Early Monday morning, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon ordered the National Guard to assist police forces in keeping the peace in Ferguson. This follows a chaotic evening filled with looting and violence where police had to use tear gas and armored vehicles to disperse demonstrators. Nixon’s announcement seemingly contradicted Captain Ron Johnson’s statements earlier in the morning. During a press briefing around 1:30 AM local time, Johnson said that while there were security plans in place to deal with violent protesters, calling in the National Guard was not a part of them.

After a relatively calm evening following protests Saturday, where most protesters observed the new midnight curfew put in place in Ferguson and only a small group clashed with police, Sunday brought chaos, disorder and violence. Businesses along W. Florissant Ave. and were broken into and ransacked. Multiple store less than a mile away from the main protests were looted and partially burned. A large group of demonstrators marched towards the police command center, located at a nearby shopping center, at roughly 8:30 PM local time. After at least one individual was wounded by a gunshot within the crowd, and Molotov cocktails and possible gunshots were fired upon the police line, police fired tear gas into the crowd. A large police presence then pushed back against the crowd with armored vehicles.

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A nearby McDonald’s (where two reporters were arrested last week) was briefly overrun by demonstrators, some of them looking to just get away from tear gas. Employees inside were scared to the point where they hid inside a storage locker until police were able to clear the scene. Another small group made a move towards the command center from behind the shopping center, using the stores and trees as cover. Tear gas was shot within the shopping center to push them away. After 10 PM, the streets were mostly calm with very few demonstrators on the street. No other major incidents occurred leading into or during the curfew.

Police believe there is a small group of radical activists from outside Ferguson that have infiltrated the protests in the evening in an effort to directly engage and attack the police. Sunday night’s activities reinforce this notion as it appears that there were numerous coordinated attacks in place. Nixon referenced this when he issued the executive order Monday morning activating the state’s National Guard to assist in Ferguson.

“Tonight, a day of hope, prayers, and peaceful protests was marred by the violent criminal acts of an organized and growing number of individuals, many from outside the community and state, whose actions are putting the residents and businesses of Ferguson at risk. I join the people of Ferguson, and all Missourians, in strongly condemning this criminal activity that included firing upon law enforcement officers, shooting a civilian, throwing Molotov cocktails, looting, and a coordinated attempt to block roads and overrun the Unified Command Center. These violent acts are a disservice to the family of Michael Brown and his memory, and to the people of this community who yearn for justice to be served, and to feel safe in their own homes. Given these deliberate, coordinated and intensifying violent attacks on lives and property in Ferguson, I am directing the highly capable men and women of the Missouri National Guard to assist Colonel Ron Replogle and the Unified Command in restoring peace and order to this community.”

Mental and physical exhaustion is starting to take its toll on the residents of Ferguson. There was hope that the midnight curfew would help to stem the chaotic and violent nights that have devolved from the peaceful protests and rallies held during the daytime hours. While many in the media have criticized the curfew as an infringement of 1st Amendment rights and an example of ‘sundown’ towns, many of the residents and community leaders in the area support it, including the family of Mike Brown. The feeling is that gatherings in the evening have been counter-productive to the greater cause and used as an excuse by many to engage in violent activity or opportunistic crimes. While other protesters, along with faith-based and community leaders, have tried to do some self-policing within the demonstrations during the evening hours, most nights have still resulted in some level of violence and property damage by a rogue few.

It isn’t just the nighttime activities from violent demonstrators that have worn on the people of Ferguson. The combination of an extremely large police presence and a constant national media spotlight has taken away any sense of normalcy for everyday people trying to live their lives. Now this small community is going to be invaded by at least 80 National Guard troops on Monday. Local schools were supposed to start their school year last Thursday. That was then pushed to Monday. However, that has been once again postponed. Children of Ferguson, looking forward to getting back to a routine, seeing friends and getting away from the daily chaos are victims in this whole mess.

The people of Ferguson want justice for Mike Brown. They want their voices to be heard and want the officer who killed Brown to be held accountable for his actions. They want systemic changes to be made to the current political and administrative systems affecting Ferguson and the St. Louis area. However, they do not want to live in a war zone or be part of a national media sideshow. They do not want to see local businesses and properties destroyed and causing further economic damage to the community.


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