National Guard ordered in to restore peace to Ferguson | News | DW | 18.08.2014
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National Guard ordered in to restore peace to Ferguson

After the second night of a curfew ended in clashes with police, Missouri state Governor Jay Nixon has called on the National Guard for help. Investigations into the shooting of an unarmed black teenager are ongoing.

Initially peaceful protests deteriorated into chaos Sunday evening as police clashed with protesters on the second consecutive day of state-imposed curfew in Ferguson in the US state of Missouri. According to media reports, protesters were dispersed by police three hours before the midnight curfew, following alleged violence. No reasons were given for the premature lockdown.

Demonstrators reported the use of tear gas and smoke by police.

"Molotov cocktails were thrown, there were shootings, looting, vandalism, and other acts of violence that clearly appear not to have been spontaneous," Missouri State Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson said at a late news briefing on Sunday.

The first night of the curfew, beginning at midnight on Saturday, saw police use smoke canisters and later tear gas. They also made several arrests, with riot gear and armored vehicles employed to disperse protesters.

Johnson said reports of a break-in and a man brandishing handgun had prompted the police action. One person was shot and wounded during the night, although the circumstances were unclear.

In a statement released early Monday morning State Governor Jay Nixon announced that he has ordered the National Guard to help restore peace and order in Ferguson.

'Hands up, don't shoot'

Results from a second preliminary investigation found unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot at least six times at midday on August 9, with two bullets fired at the head.

Witnesses claim the teenager was shot several times by one police officer - later named as 28-year-old Darren Wilson - despite having held up his hands in a sign of surrender.

The US Justice Department on Sunday announced a third autopsy would be performed on Brown's body, after an order from US Attorney General Eric Holder. A Justice Department civil rights investigation has also been widened.

'Right to protest'

Speaking to residents gathered for a church rally on Sunday, Johnson - who is tasked with restoring order in the town - said he was committed to protecting Ferguson residents' right to protest. Demonstrations have continued for over a week, as Brown's killing has reignited outrage over racial tension and police brutality.

Meanwhile, Governor Nixon - who declared the original curfew along with a state of emergency - on Sunday condemned a police decision to release video footage that allegedly showed Brown had taken part in a convenience store robbery.

"I think it had an incendiary effect," Nixon told the CBS televsion program Face the Nation. Police "clearly are attempting to besmirch a victim of a shooting," he added.

The well-known civil rights activist Reverend Al Sharpton joined a rally in Ferguson on Sunday and said Brown's death was a "defining moment for this country."

He said he wanted Congress to stop programs that provide military-style weaponry to police departments and also voiced concern over a possible campaign by the police to "smear" the slain teenager, his family and his attorneys.

Shooting in California

Meanwhile, hundreds of protestors gathered outside police headquarters in Los Angeles, California, on Sunday to demonstrate against the shooting of unarmed 25-year-old Ezell Ford, also an Afro-American, who was shot dead last Monday.

Ford's family said he had been cooperating with the police, lying on the ground when he was shot. They added that he had suffered from a mental illness and was "slower than the rest of us," Reuters news agency reported.

sb/tj (AP, Reuters, AFP)

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