After a night of chaos in which police used tear gas to disperse crowds after protesters allegedly fired guns and threw Molotov cocktails, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon early Monday signed an executive order directing National Guard troops to keep peace in Ferguson.
“Tonight, a day of hope, prayers, and peaceful protests was marred by the violent criminal acts of an organized and growing number of individuals, many from outside the community and state, whose actions are putting the residents and businesses of Ferguson at risk,” Nixon said in a statement on his website.
Nixon’s decision came after organized groups attacked police officers with firearms and petrol bombs last night, leading police to fire a barrage of tear gas into the streets.
He said he was calling in the National Guard to restore peace due to “deliberate, coordinated and intensifying violent attacks on lives and property”.
Hundreds of protesters, including young children, fled to safety after police wearing gas masks and body armor fired canisters of smoke to disperse them hours before the curfew. The Missouri Highway Patrol said some tear gas was used along with smoke bombs.
Missouri Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson told media that police had “no alternative but to elevate our response” after shots were fired, stores were vandalized and Molotov cocktails were thrown at police.
Seven people were arrested early on Sunday as police and protesters clashed again.