New Tack on Unrest Eases Tension in Missouri

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from The New York Times,

President Obama on Thursday called for an end to the violence here, denouncing actions both by the police and by protesters. Hours later, the Missouri governor, Jay Nixon, ordered the state highway patrol to take over security operations from local law enforcement.

Clashes between heavily armed police officers and furious protesters in Ferguson have defined the aftermath of an officer’s fatal shooting of an unarmed teenager on Saturday, and the latest moves came as federal and state officials scrambled to quell the growing crisis. Alarm had been rising across the country at images of a mostly white police force, in a predominantly African-American community, aiming military-style weapons at protesters and firing tear gas and rubber bullets.

Criticism of the police response, already heavy because officials have refused to name the officer involved in the shooting, intensified after two journalists were arrested Wednesday while recharging their phones and working on their articles at a local McDonald’s.

Capt. Ronald S. Johnson, the highway patrol official appointed by the governor to take over the response, immediately signaled a change in approach. Captain Johnson told reporters he had ordered troopers to remove their tear-gas masks, and in the early evening he accompanied several groups of protesters through the streets, clasping hands, listening to stories and marching alongside them.

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