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Sunday 21 September 2014

Curfew imposed after teen shooting

Published 16/08/2014 | 04:11

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Civil rights campaigner the Rev Jessie Jackson, third from right, walks with protesters down the street in Ferguson, Missouri, where Michael Brown was shot dead by police (AP)

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon has declared a state of emergency and imposed a curfew in the St Louis suburb where a black teenager was shot dead by a white police officer a week ago.

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Mr Nixon said that though many protesters were making themselves heard peacefully, the state would not allow a handful of looters to endanger the community. The curfew will run from midnight to 5 am.

"We must first have and maintain peace. This is a test. The eyes of the world are watching," Mr Nixon said. "We cannot allow the ill will of the few to undermine the good will of the many."

Tensions in Ferguson flared last night after police released the name of the officer who fatally shot 18-year-old Michael Brown and documents alleging Brown robbed a store before he died.

Mr Nixon also said the US Department of Justice is beefing up its investigation of the shooting.

Missouri State Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson, who is in charge of security in Ferguson, said there were 40 FBI agents going door-to-door today, talking to people who might have seen or have information about the shooting.

Mr Nixon and Mr Johnson spoke at a church in Ferguson, where they were interrupted repeatedly by people demanding justice and objecting to the curfew.

Mr Johnson assured those in attendance that police would communicate with protesters and give them ample opportunity to observe the curfew.

"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."

Brown's death had already ignited several days of clashes with furious protesters. Tensions eased on Thursday after Mr Nixon turned oversight of the protests to the Missouri Highway Patrol. Gone were the police in riot gear and armoured vehicles, replaced by the new patrol commander who personally walked through the streets with demonstrators. But last night marked a resurgence of unrest.

Local officers faced strong criticism earlier in the week for their use of tear gas and rubber bullets against protesters. Mr Johnson said one tear gas canister was deployed Friday night after the group of rioters became unruly.

The officer who killed Brown was identified as 28-year-old Darren Wilson, a six-year police veteran who had no previous complaints filed against him.

Mr Wilson has been on paid administrative leave since the shooting. St Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch said it could be weeks before the investigation is concluded.

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