Editor’s Note: The increasing level of violence from rioters in Ferguson has caused the city to call in the cavalry: the National Guard. Things are getting real!
Another night of chaos and violence gave way to an uneasy quiet Monday as residents cleaned up from looting and vandalism and awaited the arrival of the National Guard.
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon ordered the Guard into Ferguson hours after police cited “pre-planned” acts of aggression by protesters. Sunday night and early Monday morning, protesters shot at police, threw Molotov cocktails at officers, looted businesses and carried out a “coordinated attempt” to block roads and overrun the police’s command center, Nixon’s office said in a statement.
The National Guard will “help restore peace and order and to protect the citizens of Ferguson,” the statement said.
The predominantly black city of 21,000 on the outskirts of St. Louis has been under siege since Aug. 9, when white police officer Darren Wilson, 28, fatally shot unarmed black teenager Michael Brown. Protesters have been met with a heavy police presence, resulting in fierce nightly clashes.
“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,” the statement said. “These violent acts are a disservice to the family of Michael Brown and his memory, and to the people of this community who yearn for justice to be served, and to feel safe in their own homes.”
On Sunday, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder ordered a federal autopsy on Brown’s body. Hours later, reports began surfacing that the private autopsy performed at the request of Brown’s family determined he was shot at least six times, including twice in the head and four times in the right arm.
Benjamin Crump told USA TODAY the preliminary autopsy reports shows Brown was shot at least six times, including twice in the head but not in the back.
“It verifies the worst that the family thinks happened — that he was executed,” Crump said. “It confirms what the witnesses said, that this was an execution. That’s what the witnesses said from day one.”
Officer Wilson has his supporters — more than 100 people rallied Sunday in downtown St. Louis on his behalf. The rally was organized through social media and the Support Darren Wilson Facebook page, which was created Saturday. By Monday morning the page had drawn almost 23,000 “likes.”
Later Sunday in Ferguson — more than two hours before a second midnight curfew was set to begin — police fired tear gas at hundreds of angry protesters who were marching down the town’s main thoroughfare toward a police command center.
“Based on the conditions, I had no alternative but to elevate the level of our response,” said Capt. Ron Johnson of the Missouri Highway Patrol, who is in command in Ferguson. “We had to act to protect lives and property.”
At least two people were injured — including one person who was shot, Johnson said. Seven or eight people were arrested and will be charged with failure to disperse, police said.