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Curfew in Ferguson does little to prevent another night of unrest

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Another night of chaos and hooliganism took place in the city of Ferguson in the wake of the Michael Brown shooting that happened nine days ago. It took more than a week before Ferguson police released the name of the officer that shot Brown. He is currently in hiding. On Sunday August 17, protesters marched the streets of Ferguson in a peaceful manner, however that evening the peaceful demonstrations turned violent well before the midnight curfew. According to reports people in crowds fired off gun shots and Molotov cocktails were hurled at police. At one point a police command post was overrun forcing the use of tear gas and rubber bullets to regain control of the site. It was a move that authorities had hoped to avoid. Captain Johnson told reporters,

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Based on the conditions, I had no alternative but to elevate the level of response.

During Sunday night’s chaos, it was reported that two people were shot, but not by police. The two wounded were shot by other civilians in the crowd. Seven people are reported to have been arrested Sunday night.

It was on Thursday that Missouri Governor Jay Nixon put Missouri Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson in charge of maintaining peace in Ferguson; in effect relieving the Ferguson Police Department of their responsibilities. It was a decision that was met with praise by members of the community. Captain Johnson expressed his desire to not have to use force in enforcing the midnight curfew ordered by the Governor. With the violent clashes intensifying in consecutive nights in Ferguson the Governor has called in the National Guard to help maintain order and fully enforce the midnight curfew.

The community has been quick to criticize the police's use of the military style equipment that's visible on the streets of Ferguson. From night vision goggles, armored vehicles and assault weapons, the police look very similar to a special operations unit in combat. Residents are also skeptical of the use of the National Guard.

On Monday afternoon, retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré told CNN that, “Missouri is one of the few states that has two military police battalions.” According to the Honoré, those battalions have been deployed at least once and will arrive to the situation very well trained.

The Second Autopsy

The family of Michael Brown had pleaded with authorities last week for a federal autopsy to be performed. Attorneys for the family of Michael Brown were able to retain the services of famed forensic pathologist Dr. Michael M. Baden. One of the reasons the family was so anxious for a second autopsy by their own pathologist and or the Federal Government is the lack of transparency that the St. Louis Medical Examiner’s office has shown since they conduct the first autopsy of Michael Brown. The family’s basic questions have until now remained unanswered. Dr. Baden has released preliminary results of his examination. His results indicate that Brown was struck by six bullets, four in his arms and shoulder and two in the head.

According to Dr. Baden in a press conference on Monday August 18, five of the six shots were not fatal. However the shot to the head located on the apex of Brown’s head was the fatal shot. Dr. Baden’s examination found no signs that Brown was involved in a physical struggle and that their examination could not determine the order of the shots. He did however say that some of the injuries could be consistent with some of the eye witness statements. However, Dr. Baden was reserved with making a definite conclusion until he was cable to confer with the first autopsy findings.

In a very professional and diplomatic style, Dr. Baden said that in cases like the shooting of Michael Brown where the community has an interest in finding out what really happened, its best to get the information out that as fast as possible. He did say that when a Medical Examiner finishes their report it may not be released if the prosecutor feels that the release of the information my damage their investigation. However from the start he said that the family were entitled to the very basic information of Brown’s death such as how many times he was shot and if he suffered. Dr. Baden concluded that Brown did not suffer.

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