National Guard deployed to Ferguson
Posted August 17, 2014
Updated August 18, 2014
Raleigh, N.C. — Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon signed an executive order early Monday morning to deploy National Guard troops to Ferguson to help quell the riots and violence that have rocked the city in recent days.
“Tonight, a day of hope, prayers, and peaceful protests was marred by the violent criminal acts of an organized and growing number of individuals, many from outside the community and state, whose actions are putting the residents and businesses of Ferguson at risk," Nixon said in a statement early Monday morning.
The move comes following clashes between residents and police, who exchanged molotov cocktails, tear gas and smoke bombs Sunday night. Officers in tactical gear wore gas masks and held automatic rifles while dispersing the crowd.
The confrontations also come as a private autopsy found that Michael Brown Jr. was shot at least six times, including twice in the head, according to the New York Times. Brown was also shot four times in the right arm, the newspaper said.
Sunday night's developments happened just hours after calls for change in how police interact with residents and justice for an unarmed Missouri teen shot and killed by police echoed in Raleigh and Ferguson.
One week after Brown, 18, was killed by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, racial tensions remain high in the St. Louis suburb between its majority black residents and nearly all-white police force.
The Aug. 9 incident has sparked riots in Ferguson and rallies calling for peace and improved police-community relations across the country, including one attended by hundreds in Durham on Thursday and Sunday's event in Raleigh.
About 70 people chanted “hands up, don’t shoot” and held their arms in the air while marching on the sidewalk from the old Wake County courthouse to the state Supreme Court building.
Witnesses said Brown had his arms in the air when he was killed.
Angel Currie, who helped organize the Raleigh event, said the rally was born out of a conversation on Twitter.
“We’re American citizens and we’re being targeted by the law enforcement that our tax dollars go to pay for,” she said.
Eric Stevens, who attended the rally, said he feels uncomfortable around police officers.
“When I’m around police, I feel vulnerable, like I could be a target,” he said. “Like I’m doing something wrong and I’m not doing anything wrong.”
While marchers in Raleigh also advocated for supporting two petitions on change.org requiring police officers to wear cameras on their uniforms, those at a rally in Ferguson called for continued federal intervention in Brown's death.
The Justice Department has opened a civil rights investigation into the incident. Dozens of FBI agents recently canvased the neighborhood where Brown was killed to obtain information about the incident. In addition, a federal medical examiner will perform an autopsy on the teenager.
The incident, said Rev. Al Sharpton, is the latest in a series of alleged police brutality encounters, including a California Highway Patrol officer repeatedly punching a woman in the face on July 1 and the July 17 death of a New York man after being placed in a chokehold by police.
The world is watching how the United States responds to Brown’s death, said Sharpton, president and founder of the National Action Network, during Sunday’s rally in Ferguson.
“Whether you look at Russia, whether you look in the Middle East, whether you look in Africa, the debate is how the rights of people are dealt with by the state,” he said. “Ferguson and Michael Brown Jr. will be a defining moment on how this country deals with policing and the rights of its citizens to readdress how police behave in this country.”
Missouri State Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson, tasked with overseeing law enforcement efforts in Ferguson, spoke about how the incident has affected him.
“When this is over, I’m going to go into my son’s room, my black son, who wears his pants sagging, wears his hat cocked to his side, got tattoos on his arms, but that’s my baby,” he said to standing applause. “And we all need to thank the Browns for Michael, because Michael is going to make it better for our sons so they can be better black men.”