Governor announces curfew in Ferguson, citizens ready to guard businesses
Missouri Governor Jay Nixon announced a state of emergency and concurrent curfew for Ferguson, Mo., effective tonight, Saturday. The curfew will go into effect at 12 midnight, and last until 5 a.m.
State Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson said force will not be used tonight to clear the streets, but law enforcement will be present and on the scene.
After last night's looting, the community and local business owners have begun to distance themselves from those staying out to take advantage of the law enforcement vacuum on W. Florissant.
Police asserted their presence by slowly walking towards looters, but not interfering, instead letting groups of citizens defend local businesses.
Ibrahim Rammaha, co-owner of the Ferguson Market, said he rushed into his store in the early morning to find two looters stealing from the racks.
"What really pisses me off is everybody's doing this in the name of Mike Brown, and this is not the way [the family] wants it," Rammaha said. "It's like a war zone out there, this isn't St. Louis."
Volunteers who helped clean up local businesses thought those looting Friday night were not really members of the community or protesters, but opportunists looking for an environment to destroy.
"Most of us out here protesting want to see justice for Mike Brown, but we do not want to see our communities destroyed. We want to see everybody come together, and we're going to come together to make sure this doesn't keep happening," said Meghan Meyers, who helped clean a looted strip mall.
The local party store owner said she thinks most peaceful protesters are going home earlier, for fear of those causing violence.
"Maybe we should stay out here longer, just so we can prevent the looting," Meyers said. "Because they're not going to loot in front of us."
From the lootings have sprung new community organizers, in the form of those creating ad hoc business-protection task forces. During the cleanup Saturday morning, organizers went around from location to location, asking for phone numbers and asking whether people can be counted on to protect from looting.
"We're going to be on the front line, and fight for our community," said Anthony Ellis, who walked around collecting names and numbers in preparation for the night's watch.
These guards have to be wary they aren't involved in any major skirmishes, though, says Steven Philips, who protected businesses last night.
"You can't touch somebody as a civilian. You can't touch another person, because then you go to jail for putting your hands on somebody and the police just sit there and watch it. It seemed like it was so tense, police officers said 'You cannot intervene, stop.' If I tried to put my hands on you to stop you from breaking a window, the officer will lock me up," Philips said.
Last night he, along with others, including Alderman Antonio French, successfully talked down many looters, and lead peaceful formations to protect property.
Ellis and Philips will both be standing guard tonight (Saturday), which will stand as a test for this new curfew.