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National Guard deployed in Ferguson after worst night of violence yet

Clashes between police and protesters reached new heights in Ferguson Sunday night as law enforcement blamed outsiders determined to provoke violence.

By Gabrielle Levy
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National Guard deployed in Ferguson after worst night of violence yet
Missouri Governor Jay Nixon listens in while Missouri State Highway Patrol captain Ronald Johnson talks to reporters during a press briefing in Ferguson, Missouri on August 15, Johnson has taken over the command of the law enforcement duties in the troubled community of Ferguson, Missouri. UPI/Bill Greenblatt | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Aug. 18 (UPI) -- Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon announced Monday morning that he would call in the National Guard to Ferguson after Sunday proved the worst night of violent clashes since the shooting of Michael Brown last week.

The governor's executive order came just moments after Missouri Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson said new security measures were under discussion but did not include bringing in National Guard troops.

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But Nixon, who declared a state of emergency in Ferguson Friday, said the move was necessitated by "the violent criminal acts of an organized and growing number of individuals, many from outside the community and state."

Johnson, whose appointment last week to take over security from local police initially calmed tensions, said a small group of agitators determined to "provoke a response" were to blame for Sunday night's unrest.

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Speaking at an early morning news conference, Johnson said police responded to a shooting among the protesters around 8:25 p.m., nearly four hours before a midnight curfew was set to begin for the third straight night. He said shots were fired and molotov cocktails thrown at officers as businesses, including a McDonald's were looted.

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Officers responded by firing tear gas and rubber bullets, again donning the riot gear and driving armored vehicles that prompted a public outcry condemning the militarization of police last week.

Meanwhile, thousands who tuned into a live stream of the protests online watched as police appeared to warn protesters to back off, then firing canisters of tear gas just seconds later, while children were still among the crowd.

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Several journalists reported being briefly detained by police and cuffed using plastic restraints. One officer pointed a gun at Argus radio's Mustafa Hussein, in full view of the live stream feed, threatening to shoot him if "he didn't get the [expletive] out of here."

Johnson said three protesters were injured, and a spokesman of the Highway Patrol said seven or eight people were arrested.

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