FLORISSANT, Mo.-- Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon says the Missouri State Highway Patrol will take over the supervision of security in the St. Louis suburb that's been the scene of violent protests since a police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager.Nixon made the announcement at a news conference.
Wednesday.Nixon says security will be overseen by Capt. Ron Johnson of the Highway Patrol. Johnson, who is black, said he grew up in the community and "it means a lot to me personally that we break this cycle of violence."Crowds have gathered in Ferguson since Saturday's shooting of Michael Brown to protest the 18-year-old's death.Police defended the use of tear gas and smoke bombs to repel demonstrators after another night of chaos. But the police response has drawn heavy criticism.
DAY FOUR OF TURMOIL IN FERGUSON
As police broke up protests in Ferguson late Wednesday night, they also turned their tactics on local and national television news crews.
Two KSDK-TV photojournalists and reporter Elizabeth Matthews were filing a story about the cancellation of school in the Ferguson-Florissant school district. Matthews said they reported from a Ferguson neighborhood just outside a perimeter established by police. The crew was working out of a SUV and a larger "live" van. At least one other TV crew from Al Jazeera America was also in the neighborhood working from a mini-van.
Shortly after 9 p.m., police in riot gear began dispersing demonstrators about a quarter of a mile from the crew's location. Matthews said as protesters fled the area they ran through the neighborhood about two or three at a time for a total of no more than 20.
One of the photojournalists walked to the intersection of Highmont and West Florissant where he documented what appeared to be an altercation between police and an individual they were detaining along West Florissant. About 15 seconds into his video recording, bright lights can be seen shining at his position. Approximately 30 seconds later, as he continues to record video the sound of an air rifle firing can be heard followed by a "thud."
According to the 23-year veteran of television news, a "bean bag round" hit his camera equipment, and he retreated back to his original position on Highmont.
Both photojournalists and Matthews say police never told them to leave the area prior to this incident.
Approximately five to 10 minutes later, video recorded by the other photojournalist shows police at the intersection of Highmont and West Florissant fire what appears to be tear gas at the Al Jazeera America crew station nearby. The crew of three people is set up with television lights and a camera in front of their mini-van. The video shows the apparent tear gas billowing smoke directly in front of them. The KSDK crew says the canister hit the Al Jazeera America van.
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The KSDK crew says the Al Jazeera America crew was yelling, "We're the press." The Al Jazeera America crew can be seen running away from the van on video. Then two police officers can be seen taking down the crew's television lights and tilting the TV camera toward the ground.
From there, the KSDK crew says police approached them with "guns drawn." Matthews says she and one photojournalist were in the SUV with their hands up and the third member of their crew got down on his knees in front of the SUV and raised his hand – telling police he was with the press.
Matthews says police told them they received a call that members of the media were in danger and in need of assistance. All three members of the KSDK crew say they were never in danger and never asked for assistance.
At this point, the video shows still photographers gathered around the KSDK crew. Police tell the journalists to follow them out of the neighborhood when one person is heard saying "We're OK here." Another voice says "We don't want you here. Somebody's going to get hurt. We don't want to see you guys get hurt." The KSDK crew says that is the voice of a police officer.
The KSDK crew says the officers directed them out of the neighborhood and they complied.
16 Arrested, 2 Officers Injured During Protests
Sixteen people were arrested and two police officers were injured during Ferguson's fourth night of protests.
One of the injured officers was hit by a brick and suffered an ankle injury. The other officer's injury is unclear.
Among those arrested was 21st Ward Alderman Antonio French, who was taken into custody for unlawful assembly. French has been posting Vine videos and tweeting about the protests since Sunday.
Washington Post reporter Wesley Lowery and Huffington Post reporter Ryan Reilly were arrested while inside a McDonald's restaurant. They say SWAT officers came in to clear the area, and took them away. They were released without being charged after Ryan Pearce, a reporter for the LA Times, says he called Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson and informed him of what happened.
Wednesday night into Thursday morning marked the area's fourth night of violence, with police using bean bag shots and tear gas to disperse crowds, which affected not only protesters, but also reporters documenting the chaos.
St. Louis County police say one patrol car was also damaged during the unrest.