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FERGUSON, Mo. — Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency Saturday afternoon in the the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, and ordered a curfew after a week of unrest following the fatal shooting of a young, unarmed African-American man by a local police officer.
The governor’s action came hours after unrest returned early Saturday as hundreds of demonstrators, angered by the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, engaged in a standoff with police that was punctuated by threats and a new round of denunciations of law enforcement practices.
The confrontation, the first serious one since the Missouri State Highway Patrol assumed responsibility for security operations on Thursday, ended at about 4 a.m. when the authorities — prompted by the gradual dispersal of demonstrators — pulled back to their command post. The Associated Press said one law enforcement official had been injured overnight.
“I am committed to making sure the forces of peace and justice prevail,” Governor Nixon said during a news conference held at a church that was interrupted repeatedly by people objecting to the curfew and demanding that the officer who shot Mr. Brown be charged with murder.
“We must first have and maintain peace. This is a test. The eyes of the world are watching. We cannot allow the ill will of the few to undermine the good will of the many.”
After a day of relative calm, unrest resumed after the Ferguson police on Friday released the name of the officer who shot Mr. Brown, as well as surveillance video that appeared to show Mr. Brown stealing a box of cigarillos in a convenience store.
His family and many protesters said the police tried to divert attention from the central question: Why was an unarmed young man shot dead?
A U.S. law enforcement official said Saturday that the Justice Department had “opposed the release of the robbery video.”
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The Ferguson police wanted to release the video Thursday, the official said, but the Justice Department asked them not to because of concerns “it would roil the community further.”
The release of the video “occurred over the objection of federal authorities,” said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity to describe discussions between a federal agency and a local police force.
On Saturday morning, business owners assessed the damage from looting that took place overnight, and volunteers helped clean the area. Law enforcement officials attempted to find the right balance in allowing residents to protest and keeping the community safe, said Chris Koster, the state attorney general, after visiting a looted store.
“At this hour, it’s the business owners who are out here,” he said, “and they’re concerned that they didn’t have enough protection, in their eyes, last night.”
Governor Nixon said the Department of Justice is beefing up its civil rights investigation of the shooting.
Missouri State Highway Patrol Capt. Ronald Johnson, who is in charge of security in Ferguson, said 40 FBI agents were going door-to-door in the neighborhood starting Saturday, talking to people who might have seen or have information about the shooting.
On Friday, the police chief of Ferguson, Thomas Jackson, said the officer who shot Mr. Brown was Darren Wilson, who has served on the Ferguson force for four years and in another local department for two years and who had no disciplinary charges.
Officer Wilson, who is white, has been placed on leave, and his location is unknown.
On Saturday, Governor Nixon and Captain Johnson were flanked by numerous local elected officials, including U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay, Jr. (D., Mo.), who urged Captain Johnson to be flexible with the midnight curfew. But they were interrupted repeatedly.
“Why is the focus on security and not getting justice? Why is there not an arrest?” one woman yelled.
Among the many people shouting questions was Malik Shabazz, the president of Black Lawyers for Justice, who said that members of his group, the New Black Panther Party, and the Nation of Islam are helping to maintain order and deter protesters from violence.
Some residents said it appeared the violent acts were being committed by people who came from other suburbs or states.
“Who would burn down their own backyard?” asked Rebecca McCloud, a local who works with the Sonshine Baptist Church in St. Louis. “These people aren’t from here. They came to burn down our city and leave.”