Protesters gesture as they stand in a street in defiance of a midnight curfew meant to stem ongoing demonstrations in reaction to the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri August 17, 2014. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
A person was shot and seven people were arrested in Ferguson, Missouri early Sunday as protesters clashed with police despite a night curfew imposed on the embattled town.
The Ferguson curfew, which was in effect from midnight to 5 a.m. Sunday, was meant to quell days of violence that erupted after an unarmed black teenager was shot dead by a white police officer a week ago.
The person who was shot was critically wounded, and it was not clear why. The shooter was still at large, police said. Police said they arrested the seven for failing to disperse.
Missouri Governor Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency in Ferguson on Saturday following a week-long series of racially charged protests and instances of looting.
Civil rights activist Al Sharpton called for an end to violence and looting.
"One person was shot last night, and we don't know if was related to the protest or not, or who shot them, but we do not need more people hurt to stop the hurt," Sharpton said on his syndicated radio show "Hour of Power."
The protests were reignited after officials released the name of the police officer who shot Brown, Darren Wilson.
The latest confrontation occurred when demonstrators remained in the streets of the St. Louis suburb after curfew.
Law enforcement officials used loudspeakers to tell protesters to disperse immediately. Officers, equipped with gas masks and full-length shields, stood among and on top of armored vehicles.
Nixon imposed the curfew on Saturday after a week of racially charged protests and looting over the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson.
Nixon said on Sunday that in spite of the clashes, the curfew was a success and the community deserved credit.
"We are always disappointed when things are not perfect, but thousands of people spoke last night, thousands of people marched and not a single gunshot (was) fired by members of the law enforcement," he told CNN's news show "State of the Union.
"Members of the community helped last night to get through what could have been a very difficult night."
Nixon said he did not know how long the curfew would be in place. "We are trying to use the least amount of force to provide people the ability to speak while also protecting people's property," he said.
The person shot at a restaurant during the night was in critical condition, Missouri State Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson said. Police were unable to identify the victim, who he said was not shot by police. He said the shooter was still at large.
Johnson, entrusted with restoring order by the governor, said canisters of smoke and later teargas were fired as part of police attempts to reach the victim of the shooting, "and not in relation to the curfew." The wounded person was taken to hospital by bystanders before police could reach him.
Johnson also said someone had shot at a passing police car but was not apprehended.
The smoke and teargas canisters largely dispersed the crowd, some of whom had been chanting "No justice, no curfew, no peace", while others implored the crowd not to move forward towards police.
Sharpton, who is leading a rally with the dead teen's family on Sunday in Ferguson, said the violence and looting is undermining the protesters' fight.
"We cannot change it by becoming like those that we fight," he said. "I say to the young people, I understand your anger and you have a right to be angry, but don't go mad and burn up your own community."
The clashes have pitted mostly black protesters against mostly white police in a residential and retail district that has become a center of the unrest.
The violence flared over the death of a teenager that has been described in markedly different ways by the police and by a friend who was walking with Brown at the time, Dorian Johnson, 22.
Police say that after Wilson asked Brown to move out of the road onto a sidewalk, Brown reached into the patrol car and struggled with Wilson for the officer's service gun. Wilson, who sustained a facial injury, then shot Brown a number of times.
Johnson and at least one other witness have said the officer reached out through his car window to grab at Brown and the teenager was trying to get away from the officer when he was shot. Brown held up his hands in a sign of surrender but the officer got out of his patrol car and shot Brown several times, they said.
The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating for any civil rights violations, and the St. Louis County Police department has also launched a probe, and FBI agents were interviewing residents on Saturday.