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The Highway Patrol captain in charge of security in turbulent Ferguson, Missouri — backed for the first time by National Guard troops — vowed Monday that looters and vandals would not disrupt “the soul of this community.”
Capt. Ron Johnson made the pledge one day after the worst clashes yet between police and demonstrators who are protesting the police shooting death of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown.
“Tonight, we will ensure the safety of the citizens of Ferguson, the visitors to Ferguson, the business of Ferguson,” he told reporters. “We will not allow vandals, criminal elements, to impact the safety and security of this community.”
He gave no operational details but added: “We will ensure that the rights and the freedoms that this nation provides us will allow for protesters. We will go back and work on a plan to ensure that.”
Before daybreak, Gov. Jay Nixon ordered the National Guard to provide additional security. The governor said later that the National Guard's mission would be limited to protecting the officers already in place.
There was no official word by Monday afternoon on how many National Guard troops were being sent in, or from which divisions. The governor said that the Guard troops would report to the Highway Patrol.
Missouri National Guard Brig. Gen. Gregory Mason said that his forces were “well-trained and well-seasoned.”
Nixon also said that a midnight-to-5 a.m. curfew, which had been in place for two nights, would be lifted. Police and protesters clashed both nights, with looting, vandalism, an attempt to overthrow the law enforcement command center and law enforcement officers targeted by gunfire, the governor said.