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Ferguson Police Fire Tear Gas At Protesters Hours Before Curfew (UPDATE)

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FERGUSON, Mo. -- Police cleared Ferguson of protesters Sunday hours before a state-imposed curfew was set to take effect, throwing tear gas at individuals who were out in the streets over the death of Michael Brown, the unarmed black teenager shot and killed by police officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9.

What had started out as a loud, party-like gathering -- with protesters honking horns, dancing and yelling -- quickly dissolved into chaos as the midnight curfew approached. Police, equipped with armored vehicles, shields and gas masks, fired tear gas down Ferguson's West Florissant Avenue.

In a press conference early Monday morning, Missouri Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson, who is now in charge of security in Ferguson, said officers were commanded to throw tear gas after members of the crowd began throwing Molotov cocktails at the police. There were also reports of gunfire and businesses being broken into, with workers at a McDonald's reportedly locking themselves in a back room when the vandalism started.

According to Johnson, there were seven or eight people arrested in the protests, and at least two people were injured. He deliberately distinguished between peaceful individuals who came out to rally and people committed to "premeditated criminal acts."

Gov. Jay Nixon (D) announced early Monday morning that he had signed an executive order to send National Guard troops to Ferguson.

"Given these deliberate, coordinated and intensifying violent attacks on lives and property in Ferguson, I am directing the highly capable men and women of the Missouri National Guard ... in restoring peace and order to this community," he said in a statement.

Among those hit with tear gas Sunday was an 8-year-old boy. His mother declined to give an interview, but the crowd rallied immediately around him, attempting to get him water.

Cassandra Roberts from Richmond Heights, Missouri, came out Sunday night because she thought it was going to be peaceful and she would be able to march in solidarity without any problem.

She said she knew there was a problem when she started seeing everyone running. She went down on her knees and raised her hands in a "don't shoot" motion, but she quickly realized there was a bigger issue and she was being tear-gassed.

"I literally see these little things like, bop bop bop, and smoke is coming up. I got so choked up," said Roberts. "I couldn't even gather myself. I was so mixed up in the smoke. ... It took one of the McDonald's employees to pull me up out of the smoke. My eyes were wide open and I couldn't see a thing. They had to throw milk and water in my eyes. I didn't come down here for this."

Candice Dotson and her 11-year-old son were going back to their car when they were caught up in the beginning confrontations. She wanted to go home, she said, because the crowd was starting to get rowdy, but she never expected to be tear-gassed.

"It was horrible. There were little bitty kids in strollers. He's okay, but he's scared out of his mind," she told The Huffington Post.

Thursday was supposed to be the first day of school for the Ferguson-Florissant School District, but it announced that it was canceling classes for the week due to the continuing unrest.

Although the streets were largely cleared well before it was time for curfew, residents were supposed to be off the streets of Ferguson from midnight until 5 a.m. for the second night in a row. The Huffington Post saw at least four people walking the street get handcuffed by police for being out during that time.

The first curfew, imposed by Gov. Nixon on Saturday, was broken by several protesters. One person was shot and seven were arrested during demonstrations early Sunday.

This piece was updated with additional information.

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USA Today's Yamiche Alcindor provides an intimate look at how Michael Brown's parents have been dealing with the loss of their son:

Phones constantly ring with reporters asking for interviews or family members offering support. Last week, as demands reached a tipping point, both parents moved into hotels to shield themselves.

In the days leading up to the funeral, Brown's mother continued to cry and spoke in whispers as she tried to explain her feelings.

"They say tomorrow is going to be the hardest day, but I think today was — just seeing my baby laying there, cold," Lesley McSpadden, 34, told USA TODAY. "It did something to my heart. It's too much. It's too much."

Read the rest at USA Today.

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New audio has surfaced that allegedly captures the moment when Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, was shot dead by Darren Wilson, a white police officer, on Aug. 9.

CNN aired the unverified recording on Monday night. Six shots can be heard, followed by a pause, then several more. A private autopsy performed on Aug. 17 at the request of Brown's family found that the 18-year-old was shot 6 times, including twice in the head.

Read the rest here.

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USA Today reporter, Yamiche Alcindor shares photo of program which includes tributes to Michael Brown from his mother and father

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08/25/2014 11:57 AM EDT
Program For The Funeral
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08/25/2014 11:04 AM EDT
Noteworthy Funeral Attendees
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08/25/2014 10:58 AM EDT
Waiting For Brown's Family
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08/25/2014 10:57 AM EDT
Police Captain Ron Johnson Arrives
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08/25/2014 10:45 AM EDT
Mo. Sen. To Attend Funeral
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08/25/2014 10:37 AM EDT
Casket In Place

MSNBC reports:

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08/25/2014 10:35 AM EDT
Funeral Security
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08/25/2014 10:33 AM EDT
Brown's Father Asks For Peace
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MSNBC reports:

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08/25/2014 10:26 AM EDT
Hands Up
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08/25/2014 10:22 AM EDT
Sanctuary Filling Fast For Funeral

CNN reports:

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Missouri congressman Lacy Clay (D) said on Thursday that he had "serious concerns" about the prosecutor in charge of Michael Brown's case.

"I also have serious concerns about the local prosecutors, about their ability to fairly prosecute this case in the interests of justice. To deliver justice to this community, or to Michael Brown's family. And I say that because we have a track record," Clay told CNN.

Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch has come under heavy scrutiny in the days following Brown's death. Critics say that McCulloch's ties to law enforcement will cloud his judgement and have called on Governor Jay Nixon (D) to appoint a special prosecutor instead. A petition against him has received over 70,000 signatures.

McCulloch's father was a police officer killed in the line of duty.

For his part, McCulloch has promised that his investigation will be fair and thorough. In a statement, he said:

I have no intention of walking away from the responsibilities and duties entrusted to me by the people of this community. Additionally, there is no basis in the law to do so. I have faithfully and fairly carried out those responsibilities and duties for more than two decades and will continue to do so for at least the next four years.

Nixon has also repeatedly insisted that he won't take McCulloch off the case.

Alana Horowitz

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From HuffPost's Dave Jamieson:

Like the rest of the St. Louis community, including their own teachers, Gateway students had emotional discussions about being black in America, about mistrust of the police, about peaceful demonstration and violent protest. They were asked to write down what they were feeling about Ferguson, with the assurance that no sentiments were out of bounds.

Click here to read excerpts from the responses penned by a group of 7th and 8th graders at the school.

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Washington Post reports that Darren Wilson was injured following a scuffle with Michael Brown before he shot and killed him.

A family friend told WaPo that Wilson's eye bone was fractured. Fox News reported similar information earlier this week, citing a police source.

Another source told CNN that these reports are false.

Last week, Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson told reporters that Wilson was taken to the hospital following the incident, but did not say for what.

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HuffPost's Arthur Delaney reports:

When Attorney General Eric Holder went to Ferguson, Missouri, on Wednesday, he assured local residents the U.S. Justice Department will swiftly investigate the police killing of an unarmed black teenager on Aug. 9.

In meetings with locals, Holder emphasized how his own past experiences will inform his work overseeing the Justice Department's investigation of Michael Brown's killing. He told students at a community college there that police searched his car when he'd been stopped for speeding on the New Jersey Turnpike.

"I remember how humiliating that was and how angry I was and the impact it had on me," Holder said. "The same kid who got stopped on the New Jersey freeway is now the attorney general of the United States."

But Holder's critics point out that this is the same man who was woefully soft on bad cops when he served as Washington, D.C.'s top prosecutor in the mid-1990s.

"Relying on Holder to take action is like sending a guy with a cup of water to put out a wildfire," said Gregory Lattimer, an attorney who has represented family members of people killed by D.C. police, including DeOnte Rawlings, a 14-year-old boy shot in the back of the head by an off-duty officer in 1997.

"[Holder] was part of the problem in D.C., not the solution," Lattimer said. "He says all the right things and then he goes out and defends the status quo."

Read more here.

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