Monday, August 18, 2014

National Guard Called in To Ferguson As Looting And Violence Continues

The Missouri State Highway Patrol has been unable to stop the violence in Ferguson, Missouri. Governor Jay Nixon has called in the state National Guard in an attempt to maintain order.

"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 ... in restoring peace and order to this community," Gov. Jay Nixon said in a statement.

Nixon issued the order early Monday after what began as protests over the shooting of Michael Brown by a policeman spiraled into violence and two civilians were shot and wounded. Rioters hurled Molotov cocktails at police, and several businesses were vandalized or looted

Missouri State Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson said the civilians were not shot by the police.

 Missouri State Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson briefs the media around 1:00 a.m. on August 18. Photo: KMOX/Michael Calhoun

Johnson, who is black and lives in the area was put in command of the Highway Patrol units in Ferguson. It was obviously a gesture to get the largely white Ferguson police out of the picture. Although initially he was speaking about his solidarity with crowd, after a couple of days he seems to have a different opinion.

“Peace and justice took a very different turn after dark,” Johnson said. “Molotov cocktails were thrown, there were shootings, looting, vandalism and other acts of violence that clearly appear not to have been spontaneous, but premeditated criminal acts.”

Johnson said this had nothing to do with civil disobedience, but was designed to damage property, hurt people and get police to respond.

“The situation first started to deteriorate with the shooting of a civilian on W. Florissant and Ferguson Avenues at approximately 8:25 p.m.,” he said.

Police responded to West Florissant and Ferguson and got the shooting victim to safety, but then the violence ramped up and police became the target.

“That was followed by shots being fired on officers, a number of Molotov cocktails being thrown, and then the looting,” Johnson said.

Four businesses, including Dominos and Family Dollar, were ransacked and looted, followed by a number of shootings. There was a report of at least one more person down that was followed by rioters moving on the location of the police command center. Johnson said at that point, the crowd started throwing Molotov cocktails at them and they opened up with tear gas.

Officers fired tear gas into hundreds of protesters, including children, who were marching toward a police command post in defiance of the midnight curfew.The local CNN affiliate KSDK-TV ran video that showed children among the crowd chanting, "Hands up, don't shoot."

What kind of people bring kids to a riot?

In a local McDonald's, the patrons were forced to run into the storage room with the employees and lock themselves in as the restaurant was looted and vandalized.

Even Governor Nixon, a Democrat who depends on Missouri's black vote appears to have become fed up with this situation. Originally supportive of the protesters, the governor called out the National Guard without bothering to inform the White House or the Justice Department, which has shown a keen interest in the case for obvious reasons.

There is of course a way to end the violence and looting It's pretty much the opposite of what law enforcement in Ferguson and the vicinity have been doing thus far, but it remains to be seen  whether Governor Nixon is willing to do what's necessary. The alternative, of course is to simply to continue to try and contain the violence and let the burning and looting continue until most of the prime targets have already been hit.

As usual, it will be the people in the community with a stake in it-a job, business or a home - that suffer most.

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