Ferguson, MO, United States (4E) – President Barack Obama called for calm on the streets of Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis, on Thursday following Wednesday night’s violent clashes between protesters and police.
Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson also appealed to the public to demonstrate peacefully at a news conference Thursday while Missouri House Majority Leader John Diehl (R-Town and Country) urged Gov. Jay Nixon to declare a state of emergency in Ferguson and impose a curfew in the St. Louis County.
Obama made the call at Martha’s Vineyard, where he is taking a vacation.
“Let us remember we are all part of one American family. We are united in common values and that includes belief in equality under the law, basic respect for public order and the right of peaceful protest,” the President said in a brief address.
Obama added there is no excuse for police to use force against peaceful protesters and there is no excuse for violence against police.
Jackson said demonstrators will be given a designated area and portable toilets along West Florissant Avenue so they will not disrupt traffic and businesses. They can stay within the cone-marked area anytime, he said. But Jackson warned individuals in a crowd attacking policemen to break away to avoid getting hurt from police response.
For his part, Diehl said the curfew will deter unpeaceful protesters from mixing with peaceful protesters.
Protesters threw rocks, bricks and bottles at police, who then fired tear gas and smoke bombs in West Florissant Avenue on Wednesday night.
Two police officers were injured and 16 were arrested, including 1st Ward Alderman Antonio French and reporters from Washington Post and Huffington Post.
French said he took cover from the tear gas and smoke bombs inside his car when police arrested him. He was released from jail on Thursday morning. No charges were filed against him. The reporters were arrested inside a McDonald’s restaurant.
Washington Post reporter Wesley Lowery and Huffington Post reporter Ryan Reilly were also released without being charged.
Jackson said people in areas being cleared by police and SWAT teams were arrested and French and the reporters happened to be in those areas.
Meanwhile, Nixon said police tactic for the protest will be changed. She told civic and faith leaders in a meeting at the Christ the King United Church of Christ along Old Halls Ferry Road that the changes will be announced later Thursday.
Wednesday’s clashes were the fourth night of violence in Ferguson as people protest the shooting dead of black teenager Michael Brown by a police officer on Saturday.