The situation in Ferguson has deteriorated, prompting Missouri Governor Jay Nixon to declare a state of emergency and institute a curfew in the suburb. After the relative calm of Thursday night and Friday afternoon, looters again targeted local businesses in Ferguson while peaceful protestors demonstrated against the death of 17-year-old Michael Brown.
Multiple news sources report that in the early hours of Saturday morning, tensions turned violent when protesters stormed into a convenience store. The convenience store was the same store which Brown had been accused of robbing shortly before he was shot by the recently identified Officer Darren Wilson. Ferguson police announced Brown as a suspect and released Wilson’s name during a press conference Friday morning. Soon after, officials clarified that while Brown was a suspect in the robbery, Wilson was not aware of the robbery when he shot and killed Brown.
Around midnight Saturday morning, citizens of Ferguson broke into the store. While there were no reports of theft from the store, those inside threw rocks and other objects at officers. Missouri State Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson stated that police fired tear gas canisters in response, but no arrests were made. Captain Johnson, a 27-year veteran of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, was handed control of security in Ferguson by Missouri Governor Nixon on Thursday, after police in Ferguson drew criticism for the arrests of protestors and members of the media.
According to The Huffington Post,molotov cocktails were thrown at a liquor store causing it to catch fire. Other buildings in Ferguson were also vandalized and looted, including a beauty supply store. Reportedly, nearby police witnessed the looting, but did nothing to stop it. Reports did not clarify if the officers were members of the Ferguson Police Department or the Missouri State Highway Patrol. The lack of police response prompted citizens to act on their own. Footage was posted to Vine of Ferguson residents standing in front of a store called the Ferguson Market with hands raised in the air. The stance has been widely used by protestors in Ferguson, in reference to reports that when Michael Brown was shot, his hands were raised to indicate that he was unarmed.
The night of violence was a disappointment to many around the country because the situation in Ferguson seemed to improve on Thursday night. Captain Ron Johnson, an African-American from Ferguson, marched with residents in a peaceful demonstration after he took over security. Initially, Johnson was well received, met with hugs from Ferguson residents still raw and angry over Brown’s death and the police secrecy which followed.
The goodwill Johnson earned on Thursday was all but gone on Saturday morning as he faced the renewed anger of Ferguson residents. While Johnson acknowledged that tear gas was used against Ferguson protesters early Saturday morning, he said he did not order tear gas to be used. Johnson also swore that neither trucks nor tear gas would be used to enforce the curfew, which goes from midnight to 5 am beginning Saturday night.
Meanwhile, reports have emerged the Missouri chapter of the Klu Klux Klan has set up a fund for Officer Darren Wilson. An email reportedly circulated by the group calls Brown a “black thug” and the officer who killed him a hero.
It doesn’t matter what Mike Brown did. He was unarmed and executed. This is wrong. Media must say that. Police must say that. #Ferguson
— AnonAustria (@AnonAustria) August 16, 2014