Mo. gov. declares state of emergency, curfew in Ferguson

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency and imposed a curfew in Ferguson, Mo., on Saturday, following nights of protests after 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot and killed by a police officer.

“If we’re going to have justice, we must first have and maintain peace,” Nixon said at a Saturday afternoon press conference. “The eyes of the world are watching.”

Capt. Ron Johnson of the Missouri State Highway Patrol says the curfew will run from midnight to 5 a.m. local time Sunday and will be enforced through conversations, not tear gas and tanks.

“We will survive this and will make a change,” Johnson says.

Malik Shabazz, a member of Black Lawyers for Justice, said he has been working with a coalition of groups to help disperse crowds and keep the peace in Ferguson for the past several days.

Now, he is worried the curfew will make it harder for him to help authorities. He thinks the curfew asks people to go home too early. The past few nights, Shabazz said, people went home around 1:30 a.m.

He asked Johnson to extend the curfew during the news conference, where it was announced. Johnson however said it would stand.

“I don’t want our people to get hurt,” he said. “It’s Saturday night. Twelve midnight is an early time. … I can’t be responsible for his timeline so it is what it is.”

Margaret Huang, deputy executive director of Amnesty International USA, disagrees with the curfew.

“It’s clear that the community doesn’t feel heard,” Huang says. “It’s hard to build trust when the governor won’t meet with community members and restricts their movements with a curfew. The people of Ferguson should not have their rights further restricted.”

Daniel Moore, 42, of Ferguson said he thought a curfew would only make things more tense among protesters and the police. Moore said he fears police will use the curfew as an excuse to harass people on foot and in cars.

“It’s stupid,” Moore said as he stood among fellow protesters at QuikTrip. “They just want to control everything. … I guess they (want) us to obey — I can’t tell if I will.”

Derrick Brown, 25, said he was optimistic that people would abide by the curfew but wasn’t sure whether he supported it.

“It’ll be interesting to see the crowd move at midnight,” Brown said. “I’m curious to see how that process will unfold.”

FBI agents have joined local authorities in some witness interviews related to the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by a Ferguson, Mo., police officer, after those witnesses expressed doubts about the integrity of the local inquiry, a federal law enforcement official said Saturday.

The official, who is not authorized to comment publicly, said the joint interviews have involved few witnesses so far. But the concerns echo themes from waves of protesters during the past week who have cited a broken trust with local police.

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Eric Write head editor and chief at The Pluto Daily