Police in Ferguson, Missouri, are toning down their presence after several days of calm in the St. Louis suburb that saw angry demonstrations and clashes with police in the aftermath of the fatal police shooting of unarmed teen Michael Brown more than two weeks ago.
“When this first started, I wondered if there would be a day that law enforcement and the community would see peace together … I’ve seen that. I’ve seen arms come unfolded,” Missouri State Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson, tasked with overseeing security in Ferguson, said Wednesday. “I truly believe we’re headed to a good place. I think people who 3 days weren’t talking to officers — and maybe we weren’t talking to them — we’re talking.”
Johnson said a command post established near West Florissant Avenue during the worst of the unrest has been dismantled, and a reduced force will patrol the area. St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar defended the use of military-style equipment and tear gas on protesters in the first days of protests, saying officers trained rifles at crowds because armed protesters were pointing guns back at them, and he said tear gas is a safer option than nightsticks and police dogs.
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— Phil Helsel