FERGUSON, Mo. — Gov. Jay Nixon announced Thursday that the Missouri Highway Patrol will take control of security in Ferguson and that the unit in the embattled town would be overseen by a native son, Capt. Ron Johnson.
"What's gone on here over the last few days is not what Missouri is about. It's not what Ferguson is about. This is a place where people work, go to school, raise their families, go to church," Nixon said. "But lately it's looked a little bit more like a war zone and that's unacceptable."
Johnson, who grew up in Ferguson, said people need to show respect to each other.
"It means a lot to me personally that we this break cycle of violence, heal tension and build trust," Johnson said.
St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley said he supports freedom of assembly, but not disobedience for the law. He urged people to calm down, stand down and be reasonable.
"I am for justice," Dooley said. "I am not for revenge."
President Obama called for peace and calm in Ferguson, after meeting with Attorney General Eric Holder about repeated clashes between police and protesters after the shooting death of Michael Brown.
"I know that emotions are raw right now in Ferguson and there are certainly passionate differences about what has happened," Obama said from his vacation in Edgartown, Mass. "But let's remember that we're all part of one American family. We are united in common values, and that includes belief in equality under the law; a basic respect for public order and the right to peaceful public protest; a reverence for the dignity of every single man, woman and child among us; and the need for accountability when it comes to our government."
Holder said after meeting with Obama that he was "deeply concerned" about the deployment of military equipment and vehicles in Ferguson. The Justice Department is investigating the shooting death of Michael Brown, which sparked the protests, for possible violations of state law or civil rights.
Holder said trust must be rebuilt between law enforcement and the community, and he was offering assistance through the COPS office and the Office of Justice Programs to help crowd control and maintain public safety
"At a time when we must seek to rebuild trust between law enforcement and the local community, I am deeply concerned that the deployment of military equipment and vehicles sends a conflicting message," Holder said. The technical assistance from Justice is aimed at maintaining public safety "without relying on unnecessarily extreme displays of force."
Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., earlier Thursday said the governor would pull St. Louis County police out of the city. She said that "it is my understanding that the county police will be taken off the investigation" into the fatal shooting Saturday of Michael Brown, 18, by a Ferguson police officer.
"The police response needs to be demilitarized," she said after her own meeting with clergy. "I think the police response has become part of the problem as opposed to being part of the solution. We've all got to take a deep breath and realize that the vast majority of people protesting have a constitutional right.. ... They are my bosses and I want to make sure they have an environment of safety and respect."