Ferguson Declared A State Of Emergency
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency and a curfew in Ferguson, Mo., following a second night of looting and violence.
Saturday’s conference erupted into chaos as residents continually interrupted both Nixon and Johnson.
Nixon said that though demonstrators protesting the fatal police shooting death of Michael Brown were peaceful and constructive, others continued looting. (RELATED: Looting Resumes In Ferguson)
“But we also saw a pattern develop last night where after hours of peaceful protesting, small groups took to the streets with the intent of committing crimes and endangering citizens,” Nixon said.
At one point during his remarks, a member of the audience interrupted, saying that charging the officer, Darren Wilson, with murder would put an end to the violence in the town. (RELATED: Police Release Name Of The Cop Who Shot Missouri Teen)
Ferguson police chief Tom Jackson released two pieces of bombshell information on Friday: Wilson’s name, and a video tape showing Michael Brown stealing cigars and assaulting a store clerk just before he was shot.
Missouri State Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson was put in charge of the community relations effort on Thursday. He replaced Ferguson police and St. Louis County police who were criticized for their heavy use of tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse protesters. (RELATED: Johnathan Gentry to Ferguson, MO: ‘Change Is Not Gonna Come Until We Change It’)
Johnson said at the press conference that besides the state of emergency, a curfew would begin Saturday and cover the hours between midnight and 5 a.m.
“We will enforce that curfew in an effort to provide safety and security in the area,” Johnson said.
He also provided details on the additional FBI agents brought in to beef up the investigation into Brown’s death. An additional 40 agents began canvassing door-to-door to help find more witnesses to the shooting. (RELATED: Capt. Ron Johnson Criticizes Ferguson Police Info Release)
Local clergy members will also be coordinating and will serve as contact points between the community and the FBI.
Asked to explain why police officers responded with armored trucks and tear gas on Friday, even after Johnson’s promise to reduce the use of such tactics, Johnson explained that several officers had been injured and were trapped in a parking lot. One officer deployed the tear gas to help free the other officers.
“Last night we had several officer that were trapped in a parking lot, they tried to get out, we sent two armored vehicles to get them out,” he said.
He said that similar community outreach efforts will be implemented when enforcing the curfew. (RELATED: Now Police Chief Says Cop Realized During Stop That Michael Brown Robbed A Store)
“We won’t enforce it with trucks, we won’t enforce it with tear gas. We’ll communicate. We’ll talk about, you know what, it’s time to go home,” Johnson said, though a few in the crowd predicted that when police attempt to disperse crowds at midnight that they will be met with resistance.
Johnson also said that part of the reason for the curfew was that services were not being provided to the rest of the town.
“People are calling 911 and not getting their calls,” he said.
Neither Nixon nor Johnson answered a question aimed at them over what they plan to do to protect businesses in the case of looting. During Friday’s looting, some business owners were forced to protect their own shops. The Missouri State Highway Patrol reportedly ordered officers on the ground to stand down during the looting.
Nixon said that the media will be provided a staging area in order to record demonstrations and police response “to make sure transparency will be carried out through the process.” (RELATED: Missouri Lawmaker Wants To Insulate Officers From Identification)
Follow Chuck on Twitter