Violence erupts in Ferguson on first night of state-imposed curfew: One shot, seven arrested

Just over a week after Michael Brown was shot and killed by a police officer, protesters still don't have answers

Published August 17, 2014 2:55PM (EDT)

Smoke from a tire burnout rises over protestors on West Florissant Avenue in Ferguson on Friday, Aug. 15, 2014.   (AP Photo/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Robert Cohen)        (AP)
Smoke from a tire burnout rises over protestors on West Florissant Avenue in Ferguson on Friday, Aug. 15, 2014. (AP Photo/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Robert Cohen) (AP)

Tensions in Ferguson, Missouri, gave way to scattered violence early Sunday morning, on the first night of a state-imposed midnight to 5:00 a.m. curfew. One person was shot, according to the Huffington Post's Ryan J. Reilly, who has been reporting and tweeting from Ferguson. It was also reported that seven people were arrested, and that several canisters of tear gas were deployed against protesters.

The protests are in response to the shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, by Darren Wilson, a white police officer on Saturday, Aug. 9. Details of the shooting have yet to be released, including how many times Brown was shot.

The shape of the protests has changed each night: variations of peaceful protesting, looting, heavy militarized police response, violence and calm. After Friday night's looting, Gov. Jay Nixon imposed an emergency curfew from midnight to 5:00 a.m.

According to reports, community leaders and rain helped enforce the curfew, and the crowds mostly dispersed. However, there was a "hardcore" contingent as Alderman Antonio French described them to the Los Angeles Times, who remained in the streets.

There were reports of gunfire, and according to Capt. Ronald Johnson, a Ferguson native and member of the state's highway patrol put in charge of the police efforts by Gov. Nixon, a police car was shot at.

“I can tell you that I was disappointed in the actions of tonight,” Johnson told reporters on the scene. However, he said they were successful in protecting previously looted businesses.

“It was effective," he stated. "We sustained the health of those businesses, and we also sustained the safety of the protesters that were out [and] around tonight.”

Capt. Johnson also confirmed that tear gas was deployed, but insisted it was in order to reach the unidentified male who had been shot. The man was driven to the hospital in a civilian car, and Capt. Johnson stated he was in critical condition and "may lose their life."

Matt Pearce of the LA Times, on the scene in Ferguson, reports some of the nights events:

"The evening unfolded with police deploying several armored personnel carriers and vans filled with scores of riot police. Protesters had advanced toward a press cordon where dozens of journalists watched from a distance.

'This is the Police Department! You are violating the state-imposed curfew,' a voice called out on a bullhorn.

A protester replied, also via bullhorn: 'We have the right to assemble peacefully.... We are Mike Brown! We are Mike Brown! We are Mike Brown!'

Then a police leader, behind the lines, called out, 'Gas, gas, gas!' and the police fired smoke-filled canisters, though it was unclear whether they contained tear gas. A police line inched ahead."

The Guardian's Jon Swaine left the cordoned-off media "pen" and was tweeting and reporting from the scene:

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Other accounts and reporters to follow include Los Angeles Times' Matt Pearce, Huffington Post's Ryan J. Reilly, Alderman Antonio French, New York Times' Julie Bosman and the Washington Post's coverage.

By Sarah Gray

Sarah Gray is an assistant editor at Salon, focusing on innovation. Follow @sarahhhgray or email

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