No arrests were recorded in Ferguson, Mo., on Thursday night after the state Highway Patrol was brought in following several restless evenings that saw scores detained.
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) said he will be traveling again to Ferguson, where the police killing of Michael Brown prompted a national outcry and dozens of arrests for several nights straight. Nixon brought in the Highway Patrol to calm the "tone and armor" of police after the department was accused of acting like a military presence.
Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson, who is leading the Highway Patrol operation, sought to deescalate the tension on Thursday, mingling with protesters and even marching with them at one point. The previous night had seen an aggressive police stance, including the arrest and tear-gassing of journalists.
The Justice Department announced earlier this week it would open an investigation into the death. Nixon maintained that "justice needs to be served" and was confident the "public can deal with the truth."
The governor said it was clear that having police use mine-resistant ambush protected (MRAP) vehicles and other military equipment on the streets of the small town did nothing but exacerbate the problem.
"In this situation, clearly bringing in the MRAPs and the huge armored things incited the opposite reaction among some folks, and, quite frankly, folks felt like they were under siege," he said. "And that is not what policing is."
Earlier in the week, images coming out of Ferguson — which President Obama called “deeply disturbing” — had spurred comparisons with a war zone, with heavily armed police officers pointing weapons at protesters. Some of the protesters have thrown Molotov cocktails and rocks at police.
“We need to make sure we have a force that can meet whatever the challenge is,” Nixon said. “But, on the other hand, having MRAPs rolling down the street in the middle of protests is not going to calm people. It is not going to help get to the healing place where folks' voices can be heard and safely managed.”