After the chaotic scene Wednesday night between Ferguson police and protesters (as well as members of the press), the Governor's decision to put Missouri Highway Patrol in charge of security changed the whole situation, for now, and hopefully until we learn all the details of the initial shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown.
Suddenly, everything has changed.
The heavy riot armor, the SWAT trucks with sniper posts, the hostile glares: tonight in Ferguson they were gone.
A stunning change in tone radiated through the suburban streets where protests had turned violent each of the last four evenings following the police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown.
But Thursday night, when more than a thousand protesters descended on the remains of QuickTrip – which was burned during riots on Sunday – they had a new leader.
The man at the front of the march, was Missouri Highway Patrol Capt. Ronald S. Johnson, a Ferguson native.
“I’m not afraid to be in this crowd,” Johnson declared to reporters.
Protesters said they were still angry, demanding justice for Brown and answers from local police about why he was shot and who the offending officer was.
But, they said, Johnson’s willingness to physically interact with them, rid the streets of heavy police equipment, and help them coordinate protests was a welcome change in tone.
It's amazing how removing the war machines deployed by Ferguson police lowered tensions by so much in such a quick period of time.
According to Lowery, officers working crowd patrol were ordered to remove their gas masks. Instead, police walked along with the crowd in regular uniforms, as the protesters peacefully made their point.
The police have announced they plan on releasing the officer's name who was involved in the shooting incident that set-off the chaos in Ferguson this week. Let us hope last night's peace continues to hold as we learn more details about the shooting.