The governor of Missouri declared a state of emergency and a curfew in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson on Saturday afternoon, in the wake of riots that ensued after a police officer shot an unarmed black 18-year-old.
“We will not allow a handful of looters to endanger the rest of this community,” Gov. Jay Nixon said in a heated press conference Saturday broadcast live on MSNBC.
People at the press conference expressed anger, questioning why the police officer who shot Brown has not been arrested and charged with murder. Nixon responded by saying, “If we want justice, we cannot be distracted … We cannot have looting and crimes at night. We cannot have people fearful.”
Ferguson has been in a state of unrest since a local police officer shot unarmed Michael Brown in broad daylight on Aug. 9. The curfew will run from midnight until 5 a.m., Missouri Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson said at the press conference. Johnson — an African-American native of Ferguson who was brought in to help quell the riots on Thursday — tried to strike a positive note on Thursday.
“We will survive this, and we will make a change,” he said. Johnson implied that the all-night protests were threatening public safety and health, saying at one point, “People are calling 911 and not getting their calls [answered] … People get sick at one in the morning. People get sick at two in the morning.”
One person in attendance asked Johnson how he was going to enforce the curfew, saying, “Are you going to use tear gas again? Are you bringing back military force?”
Johnson tried to ease those fears, explaining how police would enforce the curfew: “We won’t enforce it with trucks, with tear gas. We will communicate … Because someone is standing in the street, there is not going to be an armoured truck come out.”
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