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Wednesday February 10th, 2016 8:00AM

Police use tear gas to impose Ferguson curfew

By The Associated Press
FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) -- The first night of a state-imposed curfew in Ferguson, Missouri, ended with tear gas and arrests of some protesters, but it wasn't the curfew violation that precipitated the confrontation.<br /> <br /> A team of officers from the Missouri State Highway Patrol, St. Louis city and county police moved armored vehicles down the street of the St. Louis suburb just after the midnight curfew Sunday. It turned out the timing was coincidental, said patrol Capt. Ron Johnson.<br /> <br /> Police received a report that people broke into Red's Barbecue and some were on the roof - creating a potential danger for officers trying to disperse the protesters. Police were responding to that report - not the fact that protesters were still on the street after curfew, Johnson said.<br /> <br /> Things got worse when a man with a handgun went into the street as police were nearing the restaurant. He ran away, but there was plenty of violence.<br /> <br /> A man was shot and critically wounded in the same area. Police were searching for the shooter. Someone shot at a police car - it wasn't clear if it was hit.<br /> <br /> "I was disappointed in the actions of tonight," Johnson said.<br /> <br /> Police used smoke and tear gas on protesters who refused to move back, essentially ending the confrontation nearly an hour after the midnight curfew. Seven people were arrested for failure to disperse.<br /> <br /> Saturday marked a week since a white Ferguson officer, Darren Wilson, shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown on Aug. 9. The shooting ignited racial tension in the mostly-black suburb and has led to looting and several run-ins between police and protesters.<br /> <br /> As the curfew deadline arrived Sunday, remaining protesters - chanting "No justice! No curfew!" - refused to leave the area. And as five armored tactical vehicles approached the crowd, officers spoke through a loudspeaker: "You are in violation of a state-imposed curfew. You must disperse immediately. Failure to comply, may result in arrest."<br /> <br /> As officers put on gas masks, a chant from the distant crowd emerged: "We have the right to assemble peacefully."<br /> <br /> A moment later, police began firing canisters into the crowd of protesters.<br /> <br /> Highway Patrol Spokesman Lt. John Hotz initially said police only used smoke, but later told The Associated Press that they also fired tear gas canisters. He said of police efforts: "Obviously, we're trying to give them every opportunity to comply with the curfew."<br /> <br /> Jayson Ross, who was leading the protesters toward police before the canisters were fired, said: "They got guns. We got guns. We are ready."<br /> <br /> The unrest between police and protesters came after Gov. Jay Nixon on Saturday declared a state of emergency in Ferguson.<br /> <br /> Nixon's curfew announcement came after tensions again flared in Ferguson late Friday night.
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