Police wait to advance after using teargas to disperse a crowd during a protest march for Michael Brown, who was killed by a police officer in Ferguson. Picture: Charlie Riedel

Ferguson, Missouri - Missouri Governor Jay Nixon on Monday ordered National Guard troops to help police restore order in Ferguson, the town shaken for days by race riots.

Ferguson has endured protests and violence since a white police officer shot dead Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old, on August 9.

Nixon issued his executive order after police late on Sunday fired teargas and rubber bullets to rioters after looting broke out, and after they were fired upon and attacked with Molotov cocktails.

The peaceful protests on Sunday were “marred by the violent criminal acts of an organised and growing number of individuals, many from outside the community and state”, Nixon said in a statement.

Criminal activity that broke out just hours before the midnight Sunday curfew “included firing upon law enforcement officers, shooting a civilian, throwing Molotov cocktails, looting, and a co-ordinated attempt to block roads and overrun the (police) Unified Command Centre”, Nixon said.

“Given these deliberate, co-ordinated and intensifying violent attacks on lives and property in Ferguson, I am directing... the Missouri National Guard” to assist police “in restoring peace and order to this community”.

The order authorises the use of “such portions” of the National Guard troops as the local police commander “deems necessary”.

State governors have authority over local National Guard soldiers, which are usually deployed to face civil unrest and natural disasters. - AFP