FERGUSON, Mo. - Gov. Jay Nixon signed an executive order early Monday morning directing the Missouri National Guard to Ferguson to restore order and to protect the citizens after protesters marched toward police Sunday night, throwing multiple Molotov cocktails at officers.
Under the direction of Col. Ron Replogle with the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the Guard will provide protection to the area, including the Unified Command Center, which was targeted Sunday evening.
"With these additional resources in place, the Missouri State Highway Patrol and local law enforcement will continue to respond appropriately to incidents of lawlessness and violence, and protect the civil rights of all peaceful citizens to make their voices heard," Nixon said.
Capt. Ron Johnson with the Missouri State Highway Patrol said what started as a calm evening of prayers and message of peace turned violent after dark, with protesters throwing Molotov cocktails, firing guns, and looting stores. He also said there were "other acts of violence that appear to not have been spontaneous, but premeditated attacks designed to damage property, hurt people, and provoke a response."
According to Johnson, the situation deteriorated quickly:
- 8:25 p.m. One person shot along West Florissant. Officers respond, more shots are fired and several Molotov cocktails are thrown at police. Vandals start looting nearby businesses, including Domino's Pizza, O'Reilly's Auto Parts, Family Dollar, and a self-storage business.
- 8:26 p.m. Shots are fired on Canfield.
- 8:27 p.m. Police receive a report for a person down.
- 8:28 p.m. Police receive a report for eight people with guns. Tactical teams are dispatched.
- 8:56 p.m. Hundreds of protesters march toward the police command post. In response, officers throw tear gas back at protesters and call for backup from area police departments.
- 9:20 p.m. A crowd gathers at the West Florissant McDonald's. Reports are made employees inside the restaurant sought safety by locking themselves inside a storage room.
Johnson went on to say more shots were fired and Molotov cocktails were thrown at officers. He says protesters also set up barricades in an attempt block police.
"For those who claimed the curfew is what led to tonight's violence, I will remind you it was these incidents that began before 8:30 p.m., three-and-a-half hours before the curfew was to have started last night," said Johnson.
Nixon announced Saturday he was imposing a curfew and declaring a state of emergency in Ferguson.
Early Sunday morning, during Ferguson's first curfew, seven people were arrested and one person was critically wounded in a shooting. Nixon announced Monday afternoon he has lifted Ferguson's curfew.
Here is Nixon's complete statement:
"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. I join the people of Ferguson, and all Missourians, in strongly condemning this criminal activity that included firing upon law enforcement officers, shooting a civilian, throwing Molotov cocktails, looting, and a coordinated attempt to block roads and overrun the Unified Command Center. 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. 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."
State Rep. Clem Smith (D-Velda Village Hills) disagrees with the deployment of the Guard, calling it "unwarranted."
"The deployment of the Missouri National Guard to Ferguson is an ill-advised escalation that could serve to make an already tense situation worse. As law enforcement officials themselves have said, the overwhelming majority of protestors are peaceful and law abiding, with a just a handful of troublemakers responsible for the problems that have occurred. It's hard to believe the actions of a few troublemakers warrant the use of military might.
"Addressing the grievances of those in our community who have been victims of police brutality, racial profiling, employment discrimination and institutional racism is the only way to bring calm to the area. Treating Ferguson as an occupied territory by placing tanks and armed soldiers on its streets is a huge leap in the opposite direction and will only further the distrust of government in my community."
NewsChannel 5's Jimmy Bernhard contributed to this report.