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Tensions run high as Ferguson residents confront Missouri governor

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon is confronted at news conference by residents, not reporters

The news conference started as most important conferences do, with public officials filing slowly in front of a camera bank. Reporters sat on the floor in front of the lectern, ready to take notes. Gov. Jay Nixon began by praising the "tremendous acts of grace" of residents who tried to stop looters early Saturday morning.

Nixon made instant headlines when he announced a midnight-to-5 a.m. curfew and declared a state of emergency in Ferguson, which had been hit with renewed violence overnight as the city simmers in anger over the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black man.

Then a woman who was holding a camera shouted at the governor, asking why the officer who shot Brown had not been arrested and charged with murder.

Nixon gave a long pause and didn't answer the question. Things only got rockier from there.

Tough news conferences have become a familiar scene around Ferguson in recent days, in which public officials have been rattled by residents and activists leaping in to ask more confrontational questions than the dozens of local and national reporters who are covering the story.

"I came from North Carolina, and I'm not leaving the streets until we get justice for Mike Brown!" one man shouted from the back of the room.

Another woman jumped in to ask if Missouri Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson would provide two-way radios for citizens because she hoped to organize demonstrators Saturday night.

Another person asked about the earlier use of tear gas. Another about why a photo has not been released of Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot Brown. Another asked about — well, sometimes it wasn't clear what was being asked, because the citizens and the activists sometimes all began shouting at the same time.

"Stop killing our people, police! Stop now!" one man hollered over the rest.

At one point, Johnson, who was put in charge of Ferguson's security by Nixon on Thursday, spoke in a strong, but calm tone and said:

"Yelling at each other is not going to solve that," he said. "We're all talking about the same concerns, the same passion. I'm giving you all the answers ... and I"m going to continue to do that." 

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