Huffpost Politics

Jay Nixon Orders National Guard To Ferguson

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FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) — Missouri's governor on Monday ordered the National Guard to a St. Louis suburb convulsed by protests over the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teen, after a night in which police used tear gas to clear protesters off the streets well ahead of a curfew.

Gov. Jay Nixon said the National Guard would help "in restoring peace and order" to Ferguson, where protests over the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown by a white police officer entered their second week. Police said they acted in response to gunfire, looting, vandalism and protesters who hurled Molotov cocktails.

"These violent acts are a disservice to the family of Michael Brown and his memory and to the people of this community who yearn for justice to be served and to feel safe in their own homes," Nixon said in a statement.

BuzzFeed reported Monday Nixon gave "no heads up" to the White House before calling in the National Guard. (As governor of Missouri, Nixon is commander-in-chief of the National Guard, and is not required to inform the White House of his action.)

“Folks didn’t know,” an administration official told BuzzFeed. “The White House did not know they were sending it in.”

The latest confrontations came on the same day Attorney General Eric Holder ordered a federal medical examiner to perform another autopsy on Brown, and as a preliminary private autopsy reported by The New York Times found Brown was shot at least six times, including twice in the head.

As night fell in Ferguson Sunday, another peaceful protest quickly deteriorated and the streets were empty well before the midnight curfew.

"Based on the conditions, I had no alternative but to elevate the level of response," said Capt. Ron Johnson of the Missouri Highway Patrol, who is in charge of security in Ferguson. At least two people were wounded in shootings by civilians, he said.

The "extraordinary circumstances" surrounding Brown's death and a request by his family prompted the Justice Department's decision to conduct a third autopsy, agency spokesman Brian Fallon said in a statement. The examination was to take place as soon as possible, Fallon said.

The results of a state-performed autopsy would be taken into account along with the federal examination in the Justice Department's ongoing civil rights investigation, Fallon said.

Dr. Michael Baden, a former New York City chief medical examiner, told The New York Times that one of the bullets entered the top of Brown's skull, suggesting his head was bent forward when he suffered a fatal injury.

Brown also was shot four times in the right arm, and all the bullets were fired into his front, Baden said.

The Justice Department already had deepened its investigation into the shooting. A day earlier, officials said 40 FBI agents were going door-to-door gathering information in the Ferguson neighborhood where Brown was shot to death Aug. 9.

A federally conducted autopsy "more closely focused on entry point of projectiles, defensive wounds and bruises" might help that investigation, said David Weinstein, a former federal prosecutor who supervised the criminal civil rights section of Miami's U.S. attorney's office.

Federal authorities also want to calm any public fears that no action will be taken on the case, Weinstein said.

Police have said little about the encounter between Brown and the officer, except to say that it involved a scuffle in which the officer was injured and Brown was shot. Witnesses say the teenager had his hands in the air as the officer fired multiple rounds.

Sunday's clashes in Ferguson erupted three hours before the curfew imposed by Nixon. Officers in riot gear ordered all the protesters to disperse, and many did, but about 100 stood about two blocks away until getting hit by another volley of tear gas.

Protesters laid a line of cinder blocks across the street in an apparent attempt to block police vehicles, which easily plowed through. Someone set a trash bin on fire, and the crackle of gunfire could be heard from several blocks away.

Within two hours, most people had been cleared off West Florissant Avenue, one of the community's main thoroughfares. The streets remained quiet as the curfew began. It was to remain in effect until 5 a.m.

Earlier in the day, Johnson said he had met members of Brown's family and the experience "brought tears to my eyes and shame to my heart."

"When this is over," he told the crowd, "I'm going to go in my son's room. My black son, who wears his pants sagging, who wears his hat cocked to the side, got tattoos on his arms, but that's my baby."

Johnson added: "We all need to thank the Browns for Michael. Because Michael's going to make it better for our sons to be better black men."

Talking on ABC's "Good Morning America" Monday, Michael Brown's mother said Johnson gave her a heartfelt message that he was sorry.

"Like everyone else, he is supporting, and hoping and praying this doesn't happen again," Lesley McSpadden said.

The protests have been going on since Brown's death heightened racial tensions between the predominantly black community and the mostly white Ferguson Police Department, leading to several run-ins between police and protesters and prompting Nixon to put the state highway patrol in charge of security.

Ferguson police waited six days to publicly reveal the name of the officer and documents alleging Brown robbed a convenience store shortly before he was killed. Police Chief Thomas Jackson said the officer did not know Brown was a robbery suspect when he encountered him walking in the street with a friend.

The officer who shot Brown has been identified as Darren Wilson, a six-year police veteran who had no previous complaints against him. Wilson has been on paid administrative leave since the shooting, and the department has refused to comment on his whereabouts. Associated Press reporters have been unable to contact him at any addresses or phone numbers listed under that name in the St. Louis area.

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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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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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