Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon announced today that he was declaring a state of emergency and a curfew in Ferguson, where peaceful demonstrations about the police shooting of an unarmed man have been marred by nights of looting.
The governor said the curfew will run from midnight to 5 a.m.
"This is a test, the eyes of the world are watching," Nixon said. "This is a test to see if this community can break the cycle of violence and replace it with peace."
Nixon and Missouri Highway Patrol Capt. Ronald Johnson stressed that the curfew was not intended to curb peaceful demonstration, but instead to balance expression with crime prevention.
"In the morning, this community will rise with the sun to renew its quest for justice," Nixon said.
Sonny Dayan, 53, of Kirkwood, Mo., who owns an electronics store in Ferguson that was looted Friday night, says he understands the balance city and state officials are trying to achieve.
"It's sounds to me like we're going the wrong way. The adults, mature people do need a way to express themselves about what is going on. They deserve that," Dayan said.
"But then you've got these people that see what is happening as an opportunity to break in and steal. When I think about that I don't know if I can say anything bad about the curfew. I want to give more credit to the people of Ferguson," he added.
Nixon's announcement comes one day after the release of the identity of Darren Wilson, the police officer who fatally shot 18-year-old Michael Brown, together with police allegations that Brown was involved in a robbery just before he was shot, renewed anger and unrest in Ferguson.
Looters targeted several businesses, including Ferguson Market and Liquor, where Brown reportedly stole a package of cigars before he was killed.
At today's press conference Johnson acknowledged that police had received 911 calls on Friday night reporting instances of looting and vandalism in Ferguson, but did not respond. He did not explain why.
His answer was met with frustration from an emotional audience over how police were investigating Brown's death.
"You need to charge that officer with murder!" one woman in the crowd exclaimed amid loud clapping.
The audience repeatedly asked why Wilson had not yet been indicted or charged and why police were not protecting businesses from looting.
One woman pointedly noted that it appeared that police were working harder to control protests than to bring an indictment. Other members of the audience yelled, "Killing our children isn't peace," "We won't sleep until there's justice for Mike Brown!" and "How is our community safe with a killer cop on the loose?"
They chanted "Don't shoot," Brown's alleged final words before his death, as Nixon and Johnson left the conference.
The FBI is currently working with Missouri police in investigating last week's shooting. The FBI is in the process of identifying and locating individuals who may have witnessed the altercation between Wilson and Brown, Johnson said.