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Gov. Nixon taps National Guard to help bring calm in Ferguson

Gov. Nixon taps National Guard to help bring calm in Ferguson

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Just moments after Missouri Highway Patrol Capt. Ronald S. Johnson announced early today that new security steps were planned in Ferguson that would not include National Guard troops, Gov. Jay Nixon announced that he was activating those forces.

"Given these deliberate, coordinated and intensifying violent attacks on lives and property in Ferguson, I am directing the highly capable men and women of the Missouri National Guard to assist Colonel Ron Replogle and the Unified Command in restoring peace and order to this community.” the governor's executive order said.

At his press conference after another night of violent clashes with protesters, Johnson said new security steps were planned but declined to detail them. In response to one of the few questions that were allowed, he said those plans were still in flux but did not include bringing in National Guard troops.

Johnson said the additional measures being put in place had been formulated in talks between himself, Nixon, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar, St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson and Replogle, who is in charge of the Highway Patrol.

Johnson, who was put in control of security on the North County city's streets last week, blamed a small group of agitators for the night's violence that included shootings, molotov cocktails and lootings. He said he believed those who instigated the violence came to what had been a peaceful protest determined to "provoke a response."

Other law enforcement authorities said three people had been injured in shootings during the night. None of the shootings involved officers, authorities said. Police said seven or eight people were arrested on charges of failing to disperse.

Johnson detailed a night of violence that began about 8:25 with a shooting among the protesters. Next, he said, shots were fired at and molotov cocktails thrown at officers and businesses were looted.

At one point, he said, a McDonald's was overrun by protesters and the workers inside had to take shelter.

"Based on these conditions, I had no alternative but to elevate our response," Johnson said, referring to officers' push to clear the streets hours before the midnight curfew with measures that included the use of tear gas.

Replogle, interviewed about 2:30 a.m. on CNN, said of the decision to call in the National Guard: "We need some help."

He said larger and larger groups of protesters have been showing up on the streets of Ferguson since the fatal shooting last weekend of Michael Brown, 18, by a Ferguson police officer.

Replogle said the protesters who are resorting to violence "aren't residents of this city, we know that."

- Staff, 2:30 a.m. Monday

By 6 o'clock this morning, traffic was moving in front of the looted Dellwood Market and the McDonalds restaurant, whose broken windows were not yet cleaned up or boarded up. Employees of the restaurant began showing up before dawn and said they hoped to have the restaurant open for business by 7 a.m.

Some protesters were on the scene, including Mauricelm-Lei Millere, 41, of Washington, D.C. He said he is with the New Black Panther Party.

Millere said any trouble was started by "provocateurs who are trying to destroy this."

 Malik Rhasan, 42, of Atlanta, said he came to Ferguson under the belief that the St. Louis suburb was a town on fire. "I was proud of the youth last night, and very disappointed by the police,," Rhasan said.

Mayor Reggie Jones of Dellwood said the market on Chambers Road wasn't the only city business hit; he's checking a pizza and auto parts store.

"Our city isn't included in this but we've been dragged into it because we are so close," he said.

-- Kim Bell, 6:40 a.m. Monday

 

District again delays start of classes

The Ferguson-Florissant School District on Sunday postponed its first day of school for the second time in less than a week.

The school year had been scheduled to begin Thursday, then was moved to Monday. Late Sunday, the district posted on its website this message: "Due to continuing unrest in some areas of Ferguson, and in the interest of the safety of students and families, all schools in the Ferguson-Florissant School District will be closed Monday, Aug. 18.

"Information we have received from officials on the scene late Sunday evening has contributed to concerns we have about children walking to school or waiting for buses on streets impacted by this activity, debris on the roads that could impact transportation, and continued disruption affecting our students and families in the area."

Boy waits for school bus in Dellwood

Evan Carter, 14, waits at a bus stop on Monday, Aug. 18, 2014, in Dellwood, along West Florissant that was the scene of violence on Sunday night. He attends a Catholic school in St. Louis. "They are putting people out of business," he said of the looters. "It's very sad." Photo by Kim Bell. 

— 1:45 a.m. Monday

Unarmed teenager Michael Brown was shot at least six times, including twice in the head, according to a private autopsy.

The New York Times reported that the preliminary autopsy, performed today, showed one of the bullets entered the top of Brown's skull and suggested the 18-year-old's head was bent forward when he was hit, based on an account by Dr. Michael Baden, former New York City chief medical examiner.

Dr. Baden was in Missouri at the Brown family's request to conduct the separate autopsy.

The autopsy determined that Brown also was shot four times in the right arm, the Times reported. All bullets were fired into his front.

According to the Times account, the bullets did not appear to have been shot from very close range. No gunpowder was present on Brown's body.

- Sunday, 10 p.m. 

Tear gas fired in Ferguson

FERGUSON   •  Police fired tear gas on protesters in Ferguson shortly after 9 p.m., causing some to flee for safety.

The gas was fired at the southern end of the protest area, near Solway Avenue. Police told demonstrators "Get off the street now."

Protesters began marching south on West Florissant Avenue toward Lucas and Hunt Road. About 10 to 15 minutes into the march, something happened and police began firing tear gas.

On Twitter, the St. Louis County Police reported that someone had thrown Molotov cocktails at police sometime about 9 p.m. County officials added that shots had been fired near Solway and West Florissant. Officials at the Missouri Highway Patrol could not be immediately reached for comment.

Police have made their way north on West Florissant to Canfield Drive. Many officers wore riot gear and gas masks. Some errant tear gas canisters landed in nearby neighborhoods.

Demonstrators laid bricks on West Florissant in the path of police.

Police ordered protesters to "disperse from the area immediately" and that those who didn't comply "are subject to arrest."

Protesters shot off aerial fireworks in the area. Police ordered cameramen to turn off their lights.

Cassandra Roberts came from Richmond Heights Sunday night to show her solidarity with protesters.

"It seemed like after last night, things were more peaceful," Roberts said.

Sunday night, Roberts found herself covered in tear gas as she knelt in the middle of West Florissant Avenue while police braced protest marchers.

A member of the crowd grabbed Roberts and helped/carried her to the nearby McDonalds, where workers bathed her face in milk.

"I knelt down because I trusted them," she said of police, "because they're not supposed to hurt me. I thought it was a symbol of surrender."

Roberts said she only remembers "things" hitting the ground around her and then they exploded, releasing the gas.

"It felt like my eyes got knocked out of my head," she said. "My nose was running and I couldn't breathe."

Roberts, 32, said she just graduated from medical billing school and until recently worked at Pier One Imports in Brentwood.

Jesse Bogan and Joe Holleman, 9:25 p.m.

Shots fired near protest scene in Ferguson

At about 8:30 p.m. Sunday, several shots were fired near West Florissant Avenue and Canfield Drive.

A short time later, a woman was taken away by ambulance about a block away. It is unclear whether the two events were related.

9 p.m. Sunday, Joe Holleman and Jesse Bogan

Large crowds line West Florissant Ave.

FERGUSON  •  Thousands of people had lined West Florissant Avenue, near the shuttered QuikTrip station and beyond, this evening. Some held signs. Cars streamed by honking their horns.

Members of the crowd who have been here each night since last week, said it appears the crowds are getting larger each night. The atmosphere remains festive. Still, some wondered out loud what is going to happen after tonight's curfew takes effect.

St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley was in Ferguson, shaking hands and introducing himself to the crowds. He was accompanied by bodyguards.

"People can assemble and march all they want to," Dooley told a reporter. "This is America, you know what I mean?"

Gail Davis, 54, who sells educational products to schools, observed that if it were not for the looting and the fires on the first night of unrest, "we probably would not be here." The first night, she observed, served as a wake-up call to the community.

Missouri Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson and St. Louis County's highest-ranking black police officer, Lt. Col. Ken Gregory, walked down West Florissant Avenue shortly after 7 p.m., drawing a crowd - some of it angry. A trailing St. Louis County patrol vehicle was immediately surrounded by a group of young men, some yelling "hands up, don't shoot." Others shouted obscenities.

As the group closed in around the car, a man who identified himself only as "Ronny," implored "please don't touch the vehicle. Please don't touch it."

Ronny directed the several angry youths away from the car, warning them that may face arrest if they persisted.

"These are young people, and they're that 0.1 percent element that aren't down for the cause," Ronny told a reporter. "They're trying to incite this (situation) and we don't want that."

Nearby Bobby Graves was listening to Gregory and Johnson. When asked about the tension, Graves said, "We want them out of our neighborhood," referring to police.

"This is not a threat," he said. "This is how we African Americans show we are together, we are joined. They don't need to be here."

9 p.m. Sunday, Jesse Bogan and Joe Holleman

Crowd rallies in downtown St. Louis in support of Ferguson police officer

ST. LOUIS • About 150 people including law enforcement officers stood in front of KSDK (Channel 5) on Market Street late Sunday afternoon to rally in support of Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson, the officer police say shot and killed Michael Brown, 18, on Aug. 9.

Across the street were about 15 people who opposed the pro-Wilson rally. They said they learned about the rally through social media only after it had started.

Some people at the pro-Wilson rally said they were protesting the station because a broadcast was held in front of Wilson's home.

KSDK issued an apology after airing the broadcast and said that the station "immediately felt using that video was a mistake and pulled the video of the home from future newscasts and from our web site." 

At the rally, police and relatives of police said media coverage generally has been unfair, and they want their voices heard. 

They carried signs that said: "We love and support you Darren", "Pray for peace in Ferguson" and "Justice takes time; Assumption takes seconds; Please be fair; Wait for the facts."

Martin Baker, a 2014 unsuccessful candidate in the Republican primary for the Congressional district that includes north St. Louis County, was among the people at the rally.

"I'm supporting due process of law and a fair and unbiased and honest investigation," he said.

Becky Noble, Baker's former campaign manager, said," I'm here to support my friend who's a police officer, and to support law enforcement. The level and hatred and disrespect I've seen for law enforcement just in this last week is disgusting. It's truly disturbing."

A man who said he was an undercover police officer and could not give his name was one of the leaders.  The rally was posted on the Support Darren Wilson Facebook page, which shows thousands of supporters.

Rally organizers sold navy T-shirts with a picture of a white police badge with Wilson's name. Others at the rally wore T-shirts bearing the emblems of other police departments.  Cars drove by honking in support.

On the pro-Wilson side, a staff sergeant stationed at Scott Air Force Base said, "It seems right now that you're only hearing one side from the media. There are other sides to the story."

Across the street, Aminah Lewis, 36, of St. Louis said she was there to counter the pro-Wilson rally because "I strongly believe Michael Brown was killed unfairly and as a human being, we all should expect to be treated fairly and not like a dog."

Ryan Wordsmith, 32, of University City, said, "I don't support the slaughter of unarmed civilians in broad daylight in the middle of the street. We come in peace."

Protestors carried one sign that said: "Killer Cops; Don't shoot."

- 8 p.m. Sunday, Margaret Gillerman, Nicholas C. Pistor and Michael Sorkin

Highway Patrol: Ferguson curfew remains in effect after midnight

Col. Ron Replogle, superintendent of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, has announced that the curfew from midnight to 5 a.m. for the city of Ferguson will remain in effect tonight.

In a statement, Replogle thanked people who cooperated with the first curfew:

“I was in Ferguson Saturday evening, walking and talking with the people who were gathered there. I remained there until the early hours of Sunday morning, after the curfew was in place. Except for the challenges posed by a very few individuals, I appreciate the support and cooperation of all the people who honored the curfew peacefully throughout the night. I want to thank the many local leaders and citizens of the community who continue to cooperate with law enforcement.”

—  4:50 p.m. Sunday

Crowd packs church at rally to support Brown family

The Rev. Al Sharpton told a packed church Sunday afternoon that the parents of Michael Brown will not have to cry alone, stand alone or fight alone.

"The issue is how a young man ... was shot multiple times. We want to know where justice is," Sharpton said. He urged the crowd to start showing up at the polls to vote. He also announced a future march in Washington on policing.

Hundreds filled the pews of Greater Grace Church at 3690 Pershall Road; more crowded into the foyer and hundreds remained on the parking lot unable to enter.

People turned out with families, babies in strollers, children on shoulders

Laronda Hodges, 46, a counselor for St. Louis Public Schools was outside the church with her husband and 13-year-old daughter. "I just want to be a part of making a difference," Hodges said. Nothing seems to change, she added, pointing to discrepancies in pay, in positions, in elected offices.

Marilyn McKinney, 57, of St. Louis, was there with family members, holding a photo of her nephew, De Andreis Demeko McKinney, who was fatally shot by police 20 years ago. "It relives 1994 for me," McKinney said. "My nephew was shot, hands up."

One pocket of people huddled around a radio station van broadcasting what was being said inside.

Cornell Carter, 24, of north St. Louis, was on the parking lot with five of his children. "People are all getting together. That's all that matters, even if we can't get in to hear what they have to say."

"When these cameras leave, please don't go back to the routine of killing each other," Helen Shaw pleaded with the crowd as it spilled into the parking lot. Shaw, 50, grew up in Ferguson and now lives in the Baden neighborhood of St. Louis.

— Jesse Bogan, 4:15 p.m. Sunday

Residents concerned about curfew restrictions

Before the curfew was extended to a second day, some residents and visitors were expressing frustration with restrictions on travel they've faced in the area.

Latasha Gray, a resident and alderwoman in Velda City, says she's had to bring food to her mother because of the difficulty of getting to area groceries and restaurants.

"It's an inconvenience," Gray, 40, said. "I understand it's a safety issue, but we want to get on with our lives. … It's like a Third World country here in St. Louis."

Gray said some shift workers who live in the curfew area, including UPS workers, had to get company statements verifying their schedules to police.

She's also concerned about what happens when classes begin Monday in the Ferguson-Florissant district. "How are the children going to concentrate when they're seeing this in their community?" Gray asked.

The curfew restriction also affected at least one family in need of emergency assistance.

Fannie Powell-Davis, 57, said she took her 63-year-old husband, James Davis, to the hospital Saturday night after waiting nearly half an hour for an ambulance to arrive at their residence near the corner of Lang Drive and West Florissant Avenue. Her husband, who has a heart condition, was in distress and throwing up.

Powell-Davis said she alerted her alarm company, which, in turn, notified the Ferguson Fire Department at 6:42 p.m., she said. Although Ferguson has a station on West Florissant Avenue, it took until 7:13 p.m. for an ambulance to arrive, accompanied by two police cruisers, she said.

The alarm company dispatcher told her the reason it took so long is because they had to wait for a police escort.

Even though the ambulance arrived, Powell-Davis said she drove her husband to the hospital herself because she was "so upset." She ended up spending the night at the hospital because she was afraid she wouldn't be able to return home because of the curfew.

— Denise Hollinshed

Volunteers provide lunch to law-enforcement officers, community

Volunteers, including current and former Ferguson residents, are providing free lunch to law-enforcement officers and other members of the community near the police command center command at the Northland Shopping Center.

They're grilling hot dogs and offering free chips and bottles of water to show their support for the Ferguson community.

"We're offering free lunch to anyone who comes by and the police," said Mary Skees, 43, of Ferguson.

Tim Littrell, 46, is in charge of the grilling, and brought more than 300 hot dogs.

"We're trying to let everyone know that we're here for peace,"said Littrell, a former Ferguson resident who now lives in St. Peters.

"Everybody wants justice — in a peaceful way," he said.

About 15 volunteers showed up, but more are arriving.

— Denise Hollinshed, 12:15 p.m. Sunday

Law-enforcement officers aren't the only ones getting free food from supporters.

Keith Griffin II, publisher of DELUX Magazine, set up a table near gas pump 6 at the QuikTrip on West Florissant Avenue, where he is distributing free pizza, chips, fresh fruit and bottled water to protesters and area residents.

Griffin, 37, said he grew up in the area and he's concerned about the welfare of local residents.

He's also putting together care packages to people who are stuck because of the protests and curfew, he said.

— Denise Hollinshed, 1:25 p.m. Sunday

Thousands sign petition seeking special prosecutor

Organizers said today that more than 20,000 people have signed an online petition seeking a special prosecutor to investigate the death of Michael Brown.

St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch is in charge of the investigation. The petition asks him to step aside.

“Many community members don't believe he can be fair and impartial,” said state Sen. Jamilah Nasheed. She started the petition drive with the goal of gathering 50,000 signatures. “We will continue to put pressure on him to resign,” she said.

— Michael Sorkin, 1 p.m. Sunday

Attorney general orders third autopsy

Attorney General Eric Holder said today he has ordered the Justice Department to conduct its own independent autopsy of Michael Brown— Michael Sorkin, 10:50 a.m. Sunday

Nixon calls for prosecutors to 'step up' investigation

In multiple appearances on national television Sunday morning, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon repeatedly emphasized the role of the federal investigation over the local one in the shooting death of Michael Brown. He appeared on four morning talk shows. 

Nixon called St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch, an "experienced prosecutor." Nixon said he had no timetable for the investigation. 

Nixon also told ABC's "This Week With George Stephanopoulos" that his office was unaware that Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson was going to release on Friday a videotape showing what is alleged to be Brown, 18, in what police have called a "strong-armed" robbery of cigars in a convenience store shortly before he was killed.

"Rest assured we have had very serious discussions about that action" and its effect on Brown's family, Nixon told NBC's "Meet the Press." — Chuck Raasch, 10:30 a.m. Sunday

One injured, seven arrested early Sunday

FERGUSON •  One person was critically injured in a shooting and seven people were arrested early today after a curfew went into effect here.

Missouri Highway Patrol Capt. Ronald S. Johnson said in a briefing just before 3 a.m. that police began using smoke bombs early this morning after learning that men were on the roof of Red's BBQ. Police were going to walk West Florissant Avenue in teams, but that plan changed with the report of men on the roof.

Authorities then heard that there was a shooting victim near Red's, a police car was shot at, and a man stood in the street with a handgun.

Tear gas and smoke bombs were used to disperse a group of defiant protesters. By the time officers moved protesters from the scene, the shooting victim had been taken by private vehicle to a hospital, Johnson said. He did not know whether the victim was a protester.

Rain stopped before the first tear gas was fired 45 minutes after the curfew began midnight. A police spokesman said the grenades were smoke, not tear gas. Shortly after 2 a.m., they reversed themselves and said tear gas had been fired.

Read the rest of our previous story here.

Tim O'Neil is a reporter at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Contact him at 314-340-8132 or toneil@post-dispatch.com

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