After "deliberate, coordinated and intensifying violent acts" in Ferguson, Mo. Sunday night, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon has deployed the state's National Guard to the town, which has been embroiled in protests following the killing of unarmed teenager Michael Brown by officer Darren Wilson.
"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 his official order.
Seven people were arrested by police during last night's protests; two shootings were also reported. Police officers—in riot gear—fired tear gas and rubber bullets on protesters. Protesters and reporters on the scene claim that police initiated an offensive unprovoked and well before the midnight curfew imposed by the Gov. Nixon. Police, however, claim they were forced to respond to escalating violence.
"There were shootings, vandalism and other acts of violence that clearly appear not to have been spontaneous but premeditated criminal acts," Missouri Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson told reporters. "Based on these conditions, I had no alternative but to elevate the level of our response." From the New York Times:
Captain Johnson said that some demonstrators throughout Ferguson had opened fire on the police, hurled Molotov cocktails and looted and vandalized businesses.
It appeared that an attempted attack by some protesters on the shopping center the police have used as a command center prompted the most severe response from the authorities.
Captain Johnson said that at 8:56 p.m., hundreds of protesters had descended upon the area of the command post. Soon, he said, "multiple Molotov cocktails were thrown at police." The police responded with tear gas.
An independent autopsy ordered by Michael Brown's family, which reports the teen was shot at least six times, was released Sunday night.
[Image via AP]