Conditions in the tumultuous town of Ferguson, Missouri, appear to have improved dramatically on Thursday, after Gov. Jay Nixon (D) took the public step of transferring control of the situation from local police. The St. Louis County Police had been involved in sometimes-violent confrontations with local residents since the shooting last weekend of African-American teenager Michael Brown.
Nixon gave command of the situation to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, and the response is being led by Capt. Ronald Johnson. On Thursday, local residents again participated in a march — with Johnson leading the police as participants alongside the marchers themselves. "Johnson marched in shirtsleeves — a stark contrast with the paramilitary uniforms that have become the symbol of the Ferguson police presence during nearly a week of unrest," note Paul Hampel and Koran Addo at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Johnson also spoke with the press on the scene — a big change from the previous night's arrests of two reporters — to assure journalists that he had a "big dog in this fight": He grew up in the area. "I occasionally go to Red's Barbeque," he said. "And I've had a few beers in this town, too."