Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) on Monday lifted a midnight curfew in the beleaguered town of Ferguson, Missouri, in which there have been two consecutive, chaotic nights of protest.
In a statement released Monday afternoon, Nixon also outlined why he’s sending members of the Missouri National Guard to the town, saying he’s doing so to “provide protection” and ensure the safety of a police command center that was attacked Sunday night.
Ferguson, a St. Louis suburb, has been the site of racially charged protests since the Aug. 9 shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. Clashes between protesters and police had calmed as the week progressed, but they ramped up again over the weekend.
“With these additional resources in place, the Missouri State Highway Patrol and local law enforcement will continue to respond appropriately to incidents of lawlessness and violence, and protect the civil rights of all peaceful citizens to make their voices heard. We will not use a curfew tonight,” Nixon said in the statement.
Witnesses reported police firing tear gas into crowds marching toward a police command center on Sunday night. Echoing what Missouri State Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson told reporters early Monday morning, Nixon said protesters threw Molotov cocktails and fired gunshots at law-enforcement officers. Nixon said a civilian had also been shot Sunday night.
“Again, I join the people of Ferguson, and all Missourians, in strongly condemning the violent acts we saw last night, including the firing upon law enforcement officers, the shooting of a civilian, the throwing of Molotov cocktails, looting and a coordinated attempt to overrun the unified Command Center,” his statement continued.
“We are all frustrated and looking for justice to be achieved regarding the shooting death of Michael Brown. As the dual investigations continue into what happened nine days ago at Canfield Green, we must defend Ferguson from these violent interlopers so that the peaceful protests can operate in peace and the search for answers and justice can continue.”
Also on Monday, attorneys representing Brown’s family released the results of a private autopsy report conducted on Brown. The report said Brown was shot at least six times — including twice in the head. Pathologist Michael Baden, who conducted the autopsy at the family’s request, said two of the bullets might have ricocheted and re-entered Brown’s body.
The attorneys representing Brown’s family said the autopsy provided “ample evidence” that Wilson should already be arrested.
Attorney General Eric Holder has ordered a federal autopsy to be conducted on Brown, in addition to the one requested by the family and one conducted by St. Louis County. Holder met Monday at the White House with President Barack Obama to receive an update on the situation in Ferguson.
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