Demonstrators confront police with their arms raised during on-going demonstrations to protest the shooting of Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Mo., Aug. 16, 2014. Lucas Jackson/Reuters
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency Saturday and imposed a curfew in a St. Louis suburb where police and protesters have clashed after a black teenager was shot to death by a white police officer a week ago.
Nixon said that though many protesters were making themselves heard peacefully, the state would not allow looters to endanger the community where 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot in a street. The curfew will run from midnight to 5 a.m. Sunday.
"I am committed to making sure the forces of peace and justice prevail," Nixon said at a chaotic press conference at a church that was interrupted repeatedly by people objecting to the curfew and demanding that the officer who shot Brown be charged with murder.
"We must first have and maintain peace. This is a test. The eyes of the world are watching," Nixon said. "We cannot allow the ill will of the few to undermine the good will of the many."
Tensions in Ferguson flared late Friday after police released the name of the officer who fatally shot 18-year-old Michael Brown and documents alleging Brown robbed a store before he died.
Nixon also said the U.S. Department of Justice is beefing up its investigation of the shooting.
Missouri State Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson, who is in charge of security in Ferguson, said there were 40 FBI agents going door-to-door talking to people who might have seen or have information about the shooting.
Johnson assured those in attendance that police would communicate with protesters and give them ample opportunity to observe the curfew.
"You saw people sitting in the street and they had the chance to get up," he said. "And that's how it's going to continue."
Nixon and Johnson spoke at a church in Ferguson, where they were interrupted repeatedly by people demanding justice and objecting to the curfew.
"Why is the focus on security and not getting justice? Why is there not an arrest?" one women yelled.
Curfew follows Friday violence
Brown's death had already ignited several days of clashes with furious protesters. Tensions eased Thursday after Nixon turned oversight of the protests over to the Missouri Highway Patrol. Gone were the police in riot gear and armored vehicles, replaced by the new patrol commander who personally walked through the streets with demonstrators. But Friday night marked a resurgence of unrest.
On Saturday, some residents said it appeared the violent acts were being committed by people who came from other suburbs or states.
"Who would burn down their own backyard?" asked Rebecca McCloud, a local who works with the Sonshine Baptist Church in St. Louis. "These people aren't from here. They came to burn down our city and leave."
On Friday night, Greg Thomas didn't see the familiar faces of protesters who have taken to the streets each night this week. Instead, he saw new people, younger, more eager for a confrontation with police. The 28-year-old former Marine said he left as quickly as he could when he heard people talking about getting their handguns.
"There's three agendas out there," Thomas said. "People who want to party, people who want to be martyrs and get killed by police, and the people here to protest."
Local officers faced strong criticism earlier in the week for their use of tear gas and rubber bullets against protesters. Johnson said one tear gas canister was deployed Friday night after the group of rioters became unruly.
The officer who killed Brown was identified as 28-year-old Darren Wilson, a six-year police veteran who had no previous complaints filed against him.
The Ferguson Police Department has refused to say anything about Wilson's whereabouts, and Associated Press reporters were unable to contact him at any addresses or phone numbers listed under that name in the St. Louis area.
Wilson has been on paid administrative leave since the shooting. St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch said it could be weeks before the investigation wraps up.
St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley asked Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster on Friday to take over the case, saying he did not believe McCulloch could be objective. Koster said Missouri law does not allow it unless McCulloch opts out, and McCulloch spokesman Ed Magee said the prosecutor has no plans to surrender the case.
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