The governor of Missouri will reportedly relieve St. Louis County law enforcement from policing the ongoing demonstrations in the town of Ferguson, paving the way for possible state or federal intervention.
Rep Wm. Lacy Clay (D-Missouri told Bloomberg News on Thursday morning that Gov. Jay Nixon, also a Democrat, had confirmed to him that county police will be pulled from their duties in Ferguson, where outrage continues to erupt following the officer-involved shooting and killing of Michael Brown, an 18-year-old unarmed teenager, on Saturday.
On Wednesday evening, protests in Ferguson for the fourth straight day appeared to resemble a war zone when militarized police began firing tear gas and non-lethal ammunition into the streets towards private residences. Two journalists, one from Washington Post and another from Huffington Post, were briefly detained while on assignment.
“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,”Rep. Clay told Derek Wallbank, a reporter for Bloomberg, early Wednesday.
According to a local news station, the Federal Bureau of Investigation would take control of the situation.
“The FBI will oversee all operations, protests and other activities in Ferguson,” NewsChannel 5 reported. “Local police agencies, including St. Louis County police will now operate under the direction of the FBI.”
Earlier that afternoon, US President Barack Obama said during a press conference that he has spoken with Gov. Nixon and Attorney General Eric Holder, and had instructed federal officials to do everything they could to investigate Brown’s death and keep the situation in Ferguson calm. According to NewsChannel 5, the Justice Department will also be spending special prosecutors to Ferguson to assist in the investigation.
The FBI has previously acknowledged that it is investigating Saturday’s shooting death, and Rep. Clay issued a statement on Monday with other members of Congress urging federal agents to expand their probe.
“In light of the foregoing developments, we ask the Department of Justice to investigate the shooting of Michael Brown, looking at both the facts of the specific incident as well as the potential for any pattern or practice of police misconduct by the Ferguson Police Department,” reads a portion of the statement, signed by Reps. Clay, John Conyers (D-Michigan) and Marsha Fudge (D-Ohio).