National Guard summoned to Ferguson
Police | Troops needed as confrontations escalate between police and protesters over the shooting of Michael Brown
by Lynde Langdon
Posted 8/18/14, 04:08 pm
UPDATE (4:10 p.m. EDT): Gov. Jay Nixon announced today he is discontinuing the 12 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew that has been in effect in Ferguson since Saturday. Nixon did not give a reason for the change, but it accompanies his ordering the National Guard to help keep the peace in the St. Louis suburb, which has seen multiple nights of violent attacks on police, civilians, and businesses. Nixon stated the attacks are coming from “violent interlopers,” many of whom do not live in Ferguson. They are using public discontent with the police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown as an opportunity to terrorize the community, Nixon claimed.
Meanwhile, initial results from the St. Louis County Medical Examiner's autopsy of Brown confirmed findings that he was shot multiple times. A spokesman for the county office said Brown was shot six to eight times. A private autopsy conducted by a former New York City medical examiner found Brown was shot at least six times in the head and arm. Some of the gunshots caused multiple wounds.
OUR EARLIER REPORT: Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon earlier today ordered the National Guard to Ferguson as nighttime violence against police continues to escalate there. New developments in the investigation into the police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown on Aug. 9 fanned the flames of unrest in the St. Louis suburb over the weekend.
Nixon said National Guard troops are needed to counteract “deliberate, coordinated, and intensifying violent attacks on lives and property in Ferguson.” He noted many of the perpetrators come from outside the community or state.
Ferguson experienced a brief calm on Thursday after Nixon put Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson in charge of security there. Johnson, who grew up in the area, marched with protesters and expressed compassion for their frustration over the lack of answers about why Officer Darren Wilson shot the unarmed Brown in broad daylight.
The state imposed a midnightcurfew in Ferguson on Saturday in response to threats of violence there. Since then, each night has brought further clashes between police and protesters who refused to go home after the curfew.
Nights of rage. Sunday evening brought some of the most intense confrontations yet when hundreds of protesters marched down the main street of Ferguson toward the police command center. The protesters dispersed after police fired tear gas at them. The evening also brought reports of people setting up barricades, shooting at police, and looting businesses. Johnson said at a press conference that employees at a McDonald’s locked themselves in a storage room after being overrun by protesters. Reporters on the scene said police were able to restore order in Ferguson before the curfew Sunday night, and the streets remained mostly quiet through 5 a.m. when the curfew ended.
In the details. The weekend’s protests followed the decision by the Ferguson Police Department to release more details about the shooting on Friday. Police Chief Thomas Jackson identified the officer who shot Brown and claimed Brown and a companion, Dorian Johnson, were suspects in a convenience store robbery. But Jackson also acknowledged that Wilson had not identified Brown and Dorian Johnson as robbery suspects prior to stopping them on the street on Aug. 9. In perhaps his most incendiary move, he released footage from a security video allegedly showing Brown shoving a convenience store clerk minutes before the shooting. Community leaders and Nixon himself called the video’s release an attempt by Jackson to mar Brown’s reputation before the investigation is completed.
Search for clues. At the request of Brown’s family, forensics expert Michael Baden, a former New York City chief medical examiner, examined the teen’s body. Baden told The New York Times that Brown was shot six times: four times in the right arm and twice in the head. All of the bullets entered the front of Brown’s body, Baden said. The examination was the second of three autopsies on Brown. The first was performed by state medical examiners, and the third will be conducted by federal medical examiners at the request of U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. The FBI will use results from both the state and federal autopsies in its investigation of the shooting.
Counterprotests. While protesters in Ferguson marched against police, throughout St. Louis County others rallied in support of Officer Wilson. According to the Support Darren Wilson Facebook page, which this morning had more than 24,000 likes, supporters lined up on Sunday across a one-mile pedestrian bridge that spans the Mississippi River north of St. Louis. One group is selling T-shirts emblazoned with a police shield that reads “Officer Darren Wilson … I stand by you.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.