Ferguson: Tear gas fired at protesting crowd as curfew starts after shooting death of teenager Michael Brown
The first night of a state-imposed curfew in Ferguson, where a black teenager was shot by a white police officer while walking down the street, ended with tear gas and arrests.
Officers from the Missouri State Highway Patrol, St Louis city and county police moved armoured vehicles down the street of the St Louis suburb just after the midnight curfew.
Patrol captain Ron Johnson said police responded in force because some protesters positioned themselves on a restaurant roof and created a safety risk for approaching officers.
Hundreds of other protesters left peacefully before the midnight-to-5am deadline took effect.
But remaining protesters – chanting "No justice! No curfew!" – refused to leave the area. As five armoured tactical vehicles approached the crowd, officers spoke through a loudspeaker: "You are in violation of a state-imposed curfew. You must disperse immediately. Failure to comply, may result in arrest."
A moment later, police began firing smoke into the crowd of protesters.
Missouri governor Jay Nixon said that though many protesters were making themselves heard peacefully, the state would not allow looters to endanger the community of Ferguson, where 18-year-old Michael Brown, sparking the violence.
"I am committed to making sure the forces of peace and justice prevail," Mr Nixon said at a Press conferenece at a church that was interrupted repeatedly by people objecting to the curfew and demanding that the officer who shot Mr Brown be charged with murder.
State statute gives the governor broad powers when declaring a state of emergency, but Mr Nixon has not indicated that he plans to do anything other than impose the curfew and empower the state highway patrol to enforce it.
The curfew announcement came after tensions again flared in Ferguson. Earlier, local police identified the officer who shot Mr Brown as Darren Wilson and released documents and video footage claiming that Mr Brown had robbed a convenience store just before he was shot.
Police said Officer Wilson was unaware Mr Brown was a suspect when he encountered him walking with a friend. Mr Nixon said the US Department of Justice was stepping up its civil rights investigation of the shooting.