More than a week after the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown, unrest continues in Ferguson, where peaceful protests have been upstaged by looting and violence. Following a night of gunfire and tear gas, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon deployed the Missouri National Guard to Ferguson early Monday morning. Nixon said bringing in the guard is a response to the "coordinated and intensifying violent acts," which he and Missouri Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson believe are premeditated.
Nixon said in a statement on Monday announcing his executive order:
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.
"I am directing the highly capable men and women of the Missouri National Guard to assist . . . in restoring peace and order to this community," the governor added.
According to reports, Sunday night saw the most violence yet in Ferguson, with protesters reportedly provoking police forces hours before the newly installed midnight curfew began. Capt. Johnson of the Missouri Highway Patrol, who was placed in charge of Ferguson security on Thursday, said protesters opened fire and used Molotov cocktails on police forces. There was also more looting and vandalism, Johnson said. A law enforcement command center was also mobbed by protesters.
“We had to act to protect lives and property," Johnson told reporters. He added that these were "premeditated criminal acts."
Because of the escalated violence, police forces responded with tear gas and rubber bullets. MSNBC's Chris Hayes said on Twitter that a police officer in riot gear threatened to use mace against him.
Antonio French, a St. Louis alderman who has been live-tweeting about the events unfolding in Ferguson for the last week — and who was arrested on Wednesday night — said on Twitter that the media should not conflate the protesters with the looters.
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