Ferguson Tensions Ease as Police Ditch Armor

Authorities to identify officer today after Anonymous apparently got it wrong
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 15, 2014 5:11 AM CDT
Updated Aug 15, 2014 7:45 AM CDT
Ferguson Protests Turn to Celebration
People drive down the street honking their horns, raising their arms, and holding signs on W. Florissant in Ferguson yesterday evening.   (AP Photo/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, J.B. Forbes)

After several nights of protests—and clashes with police in riot gear—the mood was a lot lighter in Ferguson last night after the Missouri Highway Patrol took over from local police. Armored vehicles were absent, cars honked their horns in celebration, and Capt. Ronald Johnson, the highway patrol official in charge, walked with a group of peaceful protesters himself. He's a Ferguson native. The owner of a pharmacy in the St. Louis suburb tells the New York Times there is a simple reason for the change in tone: "Because they're not tear-gassing us tonight." More:

  • Authorities say they will release the identity of the police officer who shot unarmed teen Michael Brown today, reports ABC News.
  • The man "unmasked" by Anonymous hackers as the officer who killed Brown isn't a cop and never has been, according to police—and his stepmother. The stepmother tells USA Today that her stepson works as a police dispatcher in a different city and doesn't live at her address, which the hackers released via a now-suspended Twitter account. "I guess I'm going to have to sleep with my gun and put cameras on the house," she says. "Now I have to defend myself and I didn't do anything wrong."

  • But while Gov. Jay Nixon's decision to strip local police of control was clearly popular in Ferguson, St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch slammed the move as "disgraceful," reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "It's shameful what he did today, he had no legal authority to do that. To denigrate the men and women of the county police department is shameful," McCulloch said, warning that the decision "may put a lot of people in danger."
  • The jarring images of Ferguson police in paramilitary gear clashing with protesters has boosted efforts to curb giveaways of surplus military gear to local police forces, the AP finds. Rep. Hank Johnson says he plans to bring in legislation this fall to tackle what he says is over-militarization of the police. "Our Main Streets should be a place for business, families, and relaxation, not tanks and M16s," he says. "Militarizing America's Main Streets won't make us any safer, just more fearful and more reticent."
  • Supporters gathered not only in Ferguson yesterday, but in Times Square and in cities across the nation. See images at BuzzFeed.
(More Michael Brown stories.)

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