The Washington Post

Ferguson asks people to stay home at night

Missouri National Guard soldiers stand by at a police command post in Ferguson on Tuesday. (Mark Kauzlarich/Reuters)

As turmoil continues to engulf Ferguson, Mo., the city issued a statement Tuesday again asking residents to remain home at night.

“It is our hope that as we continue to work for the wellbeing of Ferguson, residents will stay home at night, allow peace to settle in, and allow for the justice process to take its course,” said the statement, which was unsigned but attributed to city leadership.

This statement, which called for “nighttime quiet and reconciliation,” is not the first time since Michael Brown was killed that city leaders have asked citizens to head home when the sun goes down.

Last week, as the protests in Ferguson spread into a fifth day, the police department asked people to only gather during the day and cited the “violent outbursts” that had occurred at night.

Thomas Jackson, the Ferguson police chief, denied that this was a curfew, insisting that if protesters remained out after dark, there would be no action if these protesters were peaceful. Later that night, police again fired tear gas at protesters and two journalists were arrested for failing to leave a McDonald’s quickly enough.

A curfew was imposed over the weekend, with Gov. Jay Nixon (D) announcing the curfew on Saturday as the standoffs between the police and residents again turned violent. Nixon lifted the curfew after two nights because he had called in the National Guard to arrive in Ferguson on Monday.

In addition to asking people to stay home at night, Ferguson’s statement Tuesday also promised that city officials were meeting with residents and community leaders to address “the concerns raised as a result of this devastating series of events.”

One of the concerns that has been raised is the fact that as Ferguson’s demographic makeup has changed in recent years, the police force and city leadership have not followed suit. Two-thirds of Ferguson’s residents are black, while 50 of the 53 police officers are white. (The mayor and police chief are also white, as are most members of the city council.) Meanwhile, Darren Wilson, the officer who shot and killed Michael Brown, lives in Crestwood, a more affluent and predominantly white city in the region.

Now that these issues have been brought to the fore and these statistics have become part of the public discussion surrounding Ferguson, the city said it is considering actions to address the problem. City leaders are looking at programs that could increase the number of black applicants to the police force in Ferguson (and in neighboring cities) as well as trying to encourage residents to live in the city they are policing. The city also said it will raise funds to outfit its officers with cameras.

Mark Berman covers national news for The Washington Post and anchors Post Nation, a destination for breaking news and stories from around the country.

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