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State of emergency, curfew declared amid Ferguson protests

Published time: August 16, 2014 20:34
Edited time: August 17, 2014 03:59
Demonstrators confront police with their arms raised during on-going demonstrations to protest against the shooting of Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Missouri, August 16, 2014. (Reuters/Lucas Jackson)

Demonstrators confront police with their arms raised during on-going demonstrations to protest against the shooting of Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Missouri, August 16, 2014. (Reuters/Lucas Jackson)

Missouri governor has declared state of emergency and set curfew in Ferguson suburb where a black teenager Michael Brown was shot dead by police last weekend, sparking week-long mass protests.

TIMELINE: Militarized US police face-off with Ferguson protesters

"The eyes of the world are watching. This is the test of whether a community, this community, any community, can break the cycle of fear, distrust and violence, and replace them with peace, strength and, ultimately, justice," Governor Jay Nixon said in his speech at a church near Ferguson.

The curfew will be imposed from midnight to 5 am local time, according to Captain Ronald Johnson of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, who also spoke at the press conference, following Governor Jay Nixon.

As Governor Nixon told the people of Ferguson to sleep during the curfew, he was interrupted by a protester who yelled out “Sleep is not an option!” and “We want justice!”

Johnson also added that no tear gas or harsh tactics will be used to enforce the curfew, acknowledging that tear gas had been used against protesters early Saturday morning, but not on his orders.

"You saw people sitting in the street and they had the chance to get up," he said. "And that's how it's going to continue."

Johnson added that three officers were injured in clashes on Friday as some were trapped by the rioters in a parking lot. But no use of force was ordered by him, the captain said. “What we're doing now is not who we are,” Johnson said amid shouts.

The Governor meanwhile said that the curfew was necessary in order to separate peaceful demonstrators from violent looters, and that he will not allow a few provocateurs to endanger the community adding that “calm” is necessary to serve justice.

Amnesty International however disagrees with the curfew being a viable option to ease tensions as it is “clear that the community doesn't feel heard.”

"It's hard to build trust when the governor won't meet with community members and restricts their movements with a curfew,” said Margaret Huang, deputy executive director of Amnesty International USA, as cited by USA Today. “The people of Ferguson should not have their rights further restricted."

On Friday, following peaceful demonstrations during the day, a group of people stayed in the streets after midnight, provoking police and throwing bottles and other objects at the officers. Some individuals also stormed and looted local stores.

A masked man carries items out of a liquor store that had been broken into during on-going demonstrations to protest against the shooting of Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Missouri, August 16, 2014. (Reuters/Lucas Jackson)

Looting mars renewed protests in Ferguson (PHOTOS)

The protests in St. Louis rural community continue despite the release of the name of the police officer, Darren Wilson, who fatally shot unarmed black teenager Michael Brown last Saturday. The tragedy has triggered violence in the town and vigils by thousands of people across the United States.

The governor assured people that there are dozens of FBI agents on the ground investigating the teenager's murder. He also said that US Department of Justice is increasing its efforts in the shooting probe.