FERGUSON, Mo. – County police in riot gear and armored tanks gave way to state troopers walking side-by-side with thousands of protesters as the St. Louis suburb where an unarmed black teen was shot by a city police officer overwhelmingly avoided violence Thursday after nearly a week of unrest.
The dramatic shift came after Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon assigned oversight of the protests to the state Highway Patrol, stripping the St. Louis County Police Department of its authority after four days of clashes with crowds furious about the weekend death of 18-year-old Michael Brown.
Pedro Smith, who has participated in the protests, called it "totally different" and said, "now we're being treated with respect."
That came as President Barack Obama spoke publicly for the first time about Saturday's shooting and the subsequent violence.