Clashes between police and rioters in Ferguson, Missouri grew more violent Wednesday night and early Thursday as crowds threw Molotov cocktail-styled incendiary bombs at police, who responded with tear gas and riot control tactics.
“Wednesday saw more tense confrontations,” the AP reported on Thursday, “and further volleys of tear gas from police — this time paired with smoke bombs in response to flaming projectiles and other objects lobbed from the crowd. Protesters faced heavily armed police who at times trained weapons on them from armored trucks.”
The growing clashes between rioters, protesters and police come at the same time as people on all sides of the conflict are calling for calm.
On Thursday, a vacationing President Obama appeared at a hastily-called press conference at Martha’s Vineyard calling for calm and asking all concerned to let authorities carry out their investigation about the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown. The teen was killed by a Ferguson officer on Saturday, sparking a week of protests.
But Ferguson police chief Thomas Jackson said that his town is a “powder keg” and said that he is “changing tactics” in response to protests.
“Last night we started getting rocks, bricks, bottles thrown at us and a Molotov cocktail and gunfire went off,” Jackson said. “We need to get everyone to calm down and try to bring some peace to this. We want everybody to be able to protest. We know they’re going to protest. We want to facilitate their ability to protest because it’s a constitutional right. So working with these leaders, we’re going to try and put this together and hope that everyone will take the opportunity to get the message out that they want to get out. We understand everybody’s anger and need to have questions answered. So we’re going to hope for the best. We’re changing our tactics.”
But many are saying police have been heavy-handed in response to the riots and protests. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder noted this week, for instance, that he is “deeply concerned” about the militarization of police in Ferguson.
In another response to the militarization of police forces across the nation, Representative Hank Johnson (D, GA) has introduced legislation that would end the practice of giving police departments used equipment once designed for and used by the U.S. military.
Dozens have been detained or arrested by police as the the crowds’ behaviors continue to spin out of control. Journalists are also becoming targets. Several journalists were detained on Wednesday. An Al Jazeera news crew says they were hit with tear gas and police were seen on video dismantling the crew’s lighting equipment.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter: @warnerthuston, or email the author at email@example.com.