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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Missouri Governor to Relieve Ferguson Police Department of Duties

A police officer watches over demonstrators protesting the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown on August 13, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Brown was shot and killed by a Ferguson police officer on Saturday. Ferguson, a St. Louis suburb, has experienced three days of violent protests since the killing. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images) | Scott Olson via Getty Images

The St. Louis County Police Department will no longer be involved in the policing of Ferguson, Missouri, the suburban community rocked by protests after the death of an unarmed black teenager who was shot by a police officer last week.
Rep. Lacy Clay (D-Mo.), who represents Ferguson, told Bloomberg on Thursday that Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) is expected to announce the decision later today.
"The gov. just called me and he's on his way to St. Louis now to announce he's taking St. Louis County police out of the situation," he said.
The situation, already tenuous after extensive police presence that included rubber bullets, pepper spray and tear gas since Michael Brown's death last week, exploded Wednesday evening after SWAT officers roughed up and arrested two reporters inside a local McDonald's. The journalists were unharmed, but the incident highlighted the town's ramped up police presence, which has been criticized as overly militarized.

It was unclear which authorities, either state police or the Federal Bureau of Investigation, would be taking over in place of St. Louis County Police Department.
According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the county police was "not aware of reports that they are being relieved of duty."
The Ferguson Police Department has continued to withhold the identity of the officer who shot Brown out of concerns about his personal safety.
The governor released a statement on the situation on Wednesday evening, urging law enforcement to "keep the peace and respect the rights of residents and the press during this difficult time."
“I have been closely monitoring the situation and will continue to be in communication with local leaders, and I will be in north St. Louis County tomorrow," Nixon said. "As Governor, I am committed to ensuring the pain of last weekend’s tragedy does not continue to be compounded by this ongoing crisis."
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) said Wednesday evening that she was in contact with local officials and the Department of Justice Civil Rights Devision in order to "de escalate the tense and unacceptable situation" in Ferguson. She is also expected to meet with Attorney General Eric Holder on Thursday.
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