FERGUSON, Mo. -- Community leaders expressed both worry and optimism on Saturday about the midnight curfew imposed by Gov. Jay Nixon (D) to stop the looting that has marred protests over the death of an unarmed teen in this St. Louis suburb.
In the early hours of Saturday morning, several stores had their windows smashed and products looted after protests surrounding the Aug. 9 death of 18-year-old Michael Brown at the hands of a Ferguson police officer. Nixon announced the curfew on Saturday in response.
Renita Lamkin, a pastor who was shot by a rubber bullet while trying to mediate between protesters and police on Wednesday, said she was hoping for the best for Saturday night and thought the midnight curfew was a good idea.
“I think the curfew is fair, because really the people who are there on the real peace mission and for the cause … they don’t want the distraction,” she said. “They don’t want the headlines to say the police had to run us out. You’ve got to respect the neighborhood.”
“The only difference last night was that people were there on a different mission, as far as the people who were the peacekeepers and were there for the protest and there to grieve communally and to unite communally,” Lamkin said.
Malik Shabazz, the president of Black Lawyers for Justice, wanted the curfew to be delayed. He said earlier Saturday that members of his group, the New Black Panther Party, were helping control the protests, and Shabazz was coordinating directly on Saturday night with Missouri State Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson, the newly appointed officer in charge of keeping the peace in Ferguson, to advise him on the planned movements of the crowd.
“I’m worried about the 12 midnight. The 12 midnight is very tight, and if he won’t extend it, then I don’t know if I can get it done, but I’ll do my best,” Shabazz said of trying to clear the streets before the curfew. “I could get it done by 2 a.m., by I can’t get it done by 12 a.m.”
Johnathan McFarlan was in Ferguson for the first time on Saturday night to take part in the demonstrations. He had brought his 6-month-old son, Abraham, and said he planned to respect the curfew. "I think people need to go home," he said. "At the same time, how do you put restrictions on the right to assemble?"
Maurice Millere had been pulling protesters away from the police line on Saturday morning. "I don't think it's a good idea," he said of the curfew on Saturday night, as he marched southbound along the main street where protests and looting have taken place during the week. "I don't think the police should be here."
Most officers out on Saturday night were from the St. Louis Police Department. They wore plain uniforms, though some had helmets and batons. Near a liquor store where some looting had taken place the night before, a group of young men sat on top of their cars, sipping on apple-flavored malt beverages and occasionally honking their horns.
Johnson was in the crowd talking to residents, as other people took photos with the St. Louis police officers. Authorities had also set up a designated area for the media to observe, a first since the protests began.
The Friday night and Saturday morning looting that led to the curfew marked a regression from the previous night of demonstrations, when protests remained peaceful and new leadership compelled authorities to step back from the militaristic stance they had taken starting Wednesday afternoon.
Under the direction of Johnson, who took over after clashes between protesters and police, officers held back on Friday night, even as members of the crowd broke into several stores. Other protestors tried to stop them, but stores further north of the police line got hit the hardest.
Lamkin was optimistic about how things would go on Saturday.
“I think tonight will be fine,” Lamkin said. She paused for a moment, thinking it over. “I think tonight will be fine.”
BEFORE YOU GO
08/26/2014 7:49 AM EDT
The Toll On Michael Brown's Family
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."
08/26/2014 7:44 AM EDT
New Audio Allegedly Captures Moment Michael Brown Was Shot
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.
08/25/2014 12:58 PM EDT
Al Sharpton: America, It's Time To Deal With Policing
08/25/2014 12:53 PM EDT
Al Sharpton: All Of Us Are Required To Respond
Rev. Al Sharpton: All of us are required to respond to this #MikeBrownfuneral— HuffPost BlackVoices (@blackvoices) August 25, 2014
08/25/2014 12:48 PM EDT
Benjamin Crump: We Will Not Accept Three-Fifths Justice For Michael Brown
08/25/2014 12:28 PM EDT
Funeral Program Includes Tribute From Michael Brown's Parents
USA Today reporter, Yamiche Alcindor shares photo of program which includes tributes to Michael Brown from his mother and father
08/25/2014 12:22 PM EDT
Michael Brown's Stepmother: He Prophesied His Own Death
Stepmother of #MichaelBrown said the late teen "pretty much prophesied his own death and didn't realize it."— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) August 25, 2014