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National Guard to begin withdrawing from Ferguson

Missouri National Guard troops in Ferguson. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The Missouri National Guard will begin withdrawing from the city of Ferguson, Mo. because conditions have improved, Gov. Jay Nixon (D) announced Thursday.

This news is the clearest sign yet that officials believe the situation in Ferguson has may have finally turned a corner after standoffs between residents and police dominated the city’s streets for nearly two weeks. His announcement followed two consecutive nights of relative calm, the longest such stretch since Michael Brown was shot and killed by Darren Wilson on Aug. 9.

Nixon’s decision came four days after he first called on the National Guard to help contain the escalating situation, with nightly confrontations between protesters and a heavily-armed police force wielding tear gas and rubber bullets attracting global attention.

In a statement, Nixon said the situation in Ferguson had gotten better since the National Guard arrived, with fewer acts of violence on the city’s streets.

The Missouri National Guard had called its presence in Ferguson “a limited mission” aimed at protecting the law enforcement command center. It had operated under the command of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the agency that Nixon had placed in charge of security in Ferguson after conditions in the city deteriorated in the days after unarmed teen Michael Brown was shot and killed.

Nixon had also imposed a curfew aimed at keeping people home at night, which was in place for two nights before he called in the National Guard early Monday morning and decided to scrap the curfew.

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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