Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon put the state highway patrol in charge of security here Thursday in hopes of quelling nightly clashes between protesters angry over a police shooting of an unarmed black teenager and SWAT teams using tear gas.
Mr. Nixon tapped a highway patrol captain with ties to the local community to lead the effort. The decision followed days of escalating tension between police and protesters that has been documented minute-by-minute on social media and cable-TV news channels.
"Lately it has looked a little more like a war zone—and that's unacceptable," Mr. Nixon said of the St. Louis suburb of about 21,000 residents.
The shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown Saturday led to peaceful protests as well as broken windows, looting and burning of several buildings. Well-armed police donned helmets and shields, used armored vehicles and dispersed crowds with tear gas. Police elsewhere have moved away from using aggressive tactics to control mass gatherings, fearing they can be provocative and militaristic.
President Barack Obama on Thursday expressed concern over the "violent turn" of events, saying there is no excuse for violence against police, or for law enforcement to use excessive force against peaceful protesters.