Ferguson: 'War zone or US city?'

 

Another clash between protesters and police lit up Ferguson, Mo., on Wednesday night, with police shooting tear gas into crowds and briefly arresting two journalists.

Reporters Ryan J. Reilly of The Huffington Post and Wesley Lowery of The Washington Post were briefly arrested while covering the protests after police entered a McDonald's where the two were working. Reilly tweeted his arrest as several reports emerged that police on the scene were telling TV crews to leave.

 

President Obama was briefed on the situation by Attorney General Eric Holder and senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, White House spokesman Eric Schultz said.

A police spokesman told The New York Times that Molotov cocktails were thrown, according to police on the scene, and that at least 10 people had been arrested.

"Oh, God," Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson said when told of the reporters' arrests by the Los Angeles Times. "I told them to release them," Jackson said of the two reporters. His department was in command.

Many questioned where Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) was amid the protests.

Several hours later, he tweeted that he was "canceling all appearances" at the Missouri State Fair to visit the area Thursday.

Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) tweeted "Images & reports out of #Ferguson are frightening," minutes after the first photos and videos hit Twitter of police firing tear gas at those gathered.

"Is this a war zone or a US city? Gov't escalates tensions w/military equipment & tactics," Amash added.

Earlier in the evening, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) chimed in by tweeting: "Continuing to work the phones to de-escalate the tense and unacceptable situation in Ferguson," adding her office was making "dozens of calls" to the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division, which is investigating the shooting along with local FBI and U.S. Attorney agents.

The Missouri lawmaker noted that on Thursday, she would speak with Holder.

Protests have roiled the St. Louis suburb since an unarmed black teenager Michael Brown, 18, was shot to death by police over the weekend.

On Tuesday, Obama called the killing in Ferguson "heartbreaking."

“Along with our prayers, that’s what Michael and his family, and our broader American community, deserve,” Obama said in a statement while on vacation in Martha's Vineyard, Mass.