AFRICANGLOBE – Militarized police units once again attacked peaceful protesters on Saturday night in Ferguson, Missouri, after Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency there following a week of protests surrounding the fatal shooting of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown on August 9. Nixon also instituted a curfew from midnight to 5 a.m.
In a press briefing on Saturday night, Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson, who Nixon appointed to take over security in the town on Thursday, confirmed that seven people were arrested for “failure to disperse” after the curfew took effect, and claimed a police car had been shot at. Johnson also said police had responded to a shooting near a restaurant on Florissant Avenue. The victim was transferred to a local hospital, is in critical condition and could die of his wounds. Johnson said that they could not yet identify the victim, but he was not shot by law enforcement and his shooter remains at large. Johnson says the incident was “not in relation to the curfew.”
Although there were initially conflicting reports about whether tear gas was used to disperse protesters on Saturday night, Johnson confirmed that several cannisters of smoke and tear gas were used. He said police were trying to give protesters “every opportunity to comply with the curfew.”
on Saturday afternoon, Johnson assured reporters that police would refrain from using tear gas to enforce the curfew. Johnson’s presence in Ferguson has helped defuse tensions between police and residents after several days of protests ended with the use of armored trucks and tear gas to disperse demonstrators. Throughout Saturday, hundreds of people lined the streets, carrying signs reading “hands up don’t shoot” and “Black lives matter.”
A lawyer for Brown’s family told reporters on Saturday that the family had hired forensic pathologist Michael Baden to conduct an independent autopsy of the teenager’s body, and the St. Louis County prosecutor said in a radio interview that a grand jury investigation the shooting would begin “within days.” The FBI, who are also investigating the incident and have 40 agents stationed in the area are looking from witnesses, and handed out cards to residents on Saturday requesting information.
Saturday’s curfew was negatively received in Ferguson, where residents felt they were being penalized for tensions exacerbated by an overzealous police force.
It remains unclear how long the curfew will be in effect. When asked about the duration of the curfew on CNN’s “State of the Union” segment on Sunday, Gov. Nixon said that it would “judged by the community.”
By: Paula Mejia