One shot, 7 arrested in fresh outbreak of violence in Ferguson

AJC reporter Ernie Suggs goes to to heart of the conflict in Ferguson, where protestors say their peace.

FERGUSON, Mo. — At least one person was shot and seven were arrested early Sunday in Ferguson as a small group of protesters resisted a strict midnight-to-5 a.m. curfew imposed Saturday by the governor.

Police employed tear gas fired from armored vehicles to disperse the demonstrators — hours after officials said that that level of force would not be needed.

But about 30 minutes into the curfew, a clash broke out between riot gear-clad police officers and an isolated group of protesters who were not leaving the area. As the group approached a phalanx of officers, they chanted the name of Michael Brown, the teenager whose killing last Saturday by a Ferguson police officer has launched a week’s worth of protests, demonstrations and sometimes looting and violence.

“I can tell you that I was disappointed in the actions of tonight,” said Missouri State Highway Patrol commander Capt. Ronald Johnson, in a 3 a.m. press conference.

In the pouring rain Sunday morning, a police officer repeatedly told the marchers that they were “violating the state-imposed curfew.”

“We were trying to give them every opportunity to comply with the curfew,” Johnson said later.

Finally, several canisters of smoke bombs and tear gas was lobbed into the crowd.

The nearly hour-long clash resulted in the arrest of seven people, said Johnson, who was put in charge of policing the community on Thursday. They were charged with failure to disperse.

Johnson, who had said earlier in the day that force would not be used, later justified its use.

He said the tear gas was used because police learned that several armed men were holed up inside of a restaurant. Johnson said one of the men moved into the middle of the street, but escaped. Another unidentified man was shot and taken by friends to the hospital, where he is in critical condition.

Johnson added that a police car was also fired upon, but it was unclear whether ,it was hit.

Earlier on Saturday, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, whose members included Thurgood Marshall and Martin Luther King Jr., announced their intentions of paying for Brown’s funeral. Brown, 18, was to have started his first year of college last Monday.

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