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Gov. Nixon declares state of emergency, midnight curfew in Ferguson

Gov. Jay Nixon declares state of emergency in Ferguson
Gov. Jay Nixon declares state of emergency in Ferguson
Screengrab/YouTube

On Saturday, Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency in Ferguson, Missouri, that includes a midnight curfew. The action was announced in a raucous public meeting that included Missouri Highway Patrol Capt. Ronald S. Johnson and Malik Zulu Shabazz, head of the New Black Panther Party.

Telling the crowd that "the eyes of the world are watching," Nixon said peace would not be achieved in one night. According to Nixon, the curfew is targeted at what the St. Louis Dispatch called a "small group of troublemakers who have turned to looting and violence."

There were a number of outbursts as Nixon and Johnson attempted in vain to maintain control. Many of those present interrupted the speakers demanding "justice" and answers.

At one point, Shabazz took control of the meeting, offering advice on how law enforcement should not guard businesses targeted for looting. According to Shabazz, the presence of officers in front of those businesses would attract more protesters and possibly spark violence.

Rep. Lacy Clay, D-Mo., also attended the meeting and suggested Johnson work with Shabazz to help maintain peace. He also told the crowd he agreed with their position regarding Darren Wilson, the officer who shot 18-year-old Michael Brown and has spoken with Attorney General Eric Holder about a civil rights probe into the shooting.

Clay said he tipped his hat to law enforcement for "toning it down, for pulling it back." But, he added, "you're not going to get a fair trial in St. Louis County with this scenario."

Johnson said the curfew would remain in place and credited a number of people he said offered to assist, including members of the New Black Panther Party. At one point, he said a local motorcycle group approached him and said, "You tell us what time." He did not identify the group by name.

Johnson also said the FBI deployed 40 agents to find witnesses to Brown's shooting. The St. Louis Dispatch said agents could be seen knocking on doors at the Canfield Green apartment complex, near the site of Brown's shooting. Video of the entire conference can be seen here.