Ferguson clashes: 2 shot, 31 arrested
By: Jonathan Topaz
August 19, 2014 06:24 AM EDT
Violence continued in Ferguson, Missouri, late Monday night and into Tuesday morning, as two men were shot during demonstrations and the police again used tear gas in the wake of the fatal shooting of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown.
During a news conference early Tuesday morning, Missouri Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson said “officers came under heavy fire” Monday evening. Johnson, who has overseen security operations during the Ferguson protests since Thursday night, said a “tiny minority of lawbreakers” threw bottles and Molotov cocktails at the police, set two fires in the streets and opened fire on officers, according to video of Johnson’s news conference from NBC News. He added that “not a single bullet was fired by officers Monday night.”
Thirty-one people were arrested on Monday evening, Johnson said, including at least one individual from California and one from New York. During his news conference, the captain displayed two confiscated handguns and a Molotov cocktail obtained by the police after the weapons had been used by a “small number of violent agitators” trying to create “chaos” in an otherwise peaceful demonstration.
Police officials acknowledged that officers used tear gas against the crowd. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that police used at least three canisters of tear gas against protesters when they refused to leave the parking lot of a QuikTrip.
Johnson also acknowledged that police officers used a SWAT truck and another large vehicle to collect wounded people in the crowd. Earlier in the evening, he told reporters that all the people arrested “weren’t being peaceful.”
“We do not want to lose another life in this community,” a visibly upset Johnson said during the news conference.
Monday marked the first time that state National Guard forces arrived in Ferguson, deployed by Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon after Sunday marked perhaps the most violent night of protests since Brown’s death on Aug. 9. Brown’s family also held a news conference Monday morning to discuss a preliminary autopsy that reported Brown was shot at least six times, including twice in the head.
After declaring a state of emergency and a midnight-5 a.m. curfew for Saturday and Sunday, Nixon called off the curfew for Monday. The governor has not yet announced a decision on a curfew for Tuesday or beyond.
Among those arrested was Getty Images staff photographer Scott Olson, who was taking photos of the protests. “We at Getty Images stand firmly behind our colleague Scott Olson and the right to report from Ferguson,” Pancho Bernasconi, Getty Images vice president of news, said in a statement. “Getty Images is working to secure his release as soon as possible.”
Mediaite video also showed at least one protester throwing rocks at MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, who was reporting live. After co-host Craig Melvin helped shield him, Hayes said: “People are angry, man. They are really angry,” adding repeatedly that “we’re fine.”
The Federal Aviation Administration on Monday extended its ban on low-flying planes over Ferguson for another week. In a notice released Monday evening, the FAA said that the ban on aircraft flying at 3,000 feet and below will be in place through August 25. The agency initially instituted its ban last Tuesday and was set to expire on Monday. As it reported last week, the FAA said the reason for the ban is to “to provide a safe environment for law enforcement activities.”
Also on Monday, the Ferguson-Florissant School District announced it would be closing schools for the entire week to “allow needed time for peace and stability to be restored to our community.”
Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot and killed Brown, has yet to be charged or arrested after being placed on paid administrative leave after the shooting.