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Thursday
Aug212014

National Guard Ordered to Leave Ferguson

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(FERGUSON, Mo.) -- The Missouri National Guard has been ordered to leave the strife-torn town of Ferguson.

Gov. Jay Nixon, who ordered the guard into Ferguson earlier this week, said on Thursday he was withdrawing them because "we continue to see improvement" in safety conditions in the town.

“I greatly appreciate the men and women of the Missouri National Guard for successfully carrying out the specific, limited mission of protecting the Unified Command Center so that law enforcement officers could focus on the important work of increasing communication within the community, restoring trust, and protecting the people and property of Ferguson,” Nixon said in a statement.

The governor said the guard would begin withdrawing after a relatively calm Wednesday night which resulted in only six arrests.

"Tonight was a very good night,” said Capt. Ron Johnson of the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

On Tuesday night, 43 were arrested and nearly 80 arrests were made on Monday night.

The National Guard did not patrol Ferguson's streets, standing guard instead at the police command center.

Johnson said the city would continue to have a strong police presence.

The St. Louis suburb has been roiled with angry protests since the police officer shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown, 18, on Aug. 9. At times, those protests erupted into looting, Molotov cocktails and rock throwing. Police have responded with tear gas and rubber bullets.

On Monday, when Nixon called out the National Guard, President Obama appeared to express skepticism over the tactic.

"I spoke to Jay Nixon about this and expressed interest that if it was used, it would be in a limited and appropriate way," Obama said Monday. He added that, "I’ll be watching to see that it’s helping, not hindering, progress."

Nixon visited Ferguson Wednesday, as did U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

Protesters have been demanding that the police officer, Darren Wilson, be arrested for shooting Brown. But St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch said Wednesday that a grand jury investigation into the shooting would likely last until mid-October.


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