Ferguson, Missouri, was rocked by a fourth night of protests Wednesday, as residents angered at the killing by police of 18-year-old Michael Brown in a suburban neighborhood last weekend clashed with police.
At least 10 arrests have reportedly been made, apparently including a local politician, Antonio French, who had been actively reporting on events in Ferguson on social media. Protests are continuing outside of a police station in Ferguson, despite police use of tear gas and smoke bombs earlier in the night to disperse the crowd.
Missouri Governor Jay Nixon said that the clashes in Ferguson are "deeply troubling, and does not represent who we are as Missourians or as Americans," and added: "While we all respect the solemn responsibility of our law enforcement officers to protect the public, we must also safeguard the rights of Missourians to peaceably assemble and the rights of the press to report on matters of public concern."
Two journalists, The Huffington Post’s Ryan J. Reilly and The Washington Post’s Wesley Lowery, were arrested and then released by law enforcement.
Reilly had earlier tweeted photos of a heavy police presence at the protests, noting "I counted 70+ SWAT officers. Guns trained on the crowd. Insanity.”
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Reilly and Lowery said that they were in a nearby McDonald's outlet when they were confronted by police. In a tweet, Reilly said “SWAT just invade McDonald's where I'm working/recharging. Asked for ID when I took photo.”
Lowery then tweeted that the pair had been “Detained, booked, given answers to no questions. Then just let out.”
Lowery also claimed he had been assaulted by an officer, saying that he had been "slammed into a soda fountain machine," and that officers had refused to give the pair their names.
The Associated Press reported that violent confrontations have broken out between police and protesters, "with people lobbing Molotov cocktails at police, who responded with smoke bombs and tear gas to disperse the crowd.”
Police officials defended their handling of the crisis. St Louis County police chief Jon Belmar told the Los Angeles Times that his officers had “done everything we can to demonstrate a remarkable amount of restraint."
However, many in Ferguson have been angered at police chief Thomas Jackson’s refusal to identify the officer who shot and killed Brown.
The New York Times reports however that Jackson claimed on Wednesday that the officer was struck in the face during his encounter with Brown and required hospital treatment. Protesters have denied that a fight took place.
St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch told a news conference Wednesday that there was as yet no timetable for the investigation into Brown’s shooting.
President Obama has reportedly been briefed on the situation in Ferguson by adviser Valerie Jarrett and Attorney General Eric Holder.