Jay Nixon: National Guard Will Be Ready In Case Ferguson Explodes

WELDON SPRING, Mo. (AP) — Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon said Tuesday that law enforcement officials have been working around the clock to make sure residents and businesses are kept safe once prosecutors announce whether a suburban St. Louis police officer will face charges for fatally shooting 18-year-old Michael Brown.

A grand jury is expected to decide later this month whether to indict Ferguson Officer Darren Wilson, who is white, in the Aug. 9 death of Brown, who was black and unarmed.

Weeks of protests followed the shooting and officials are trying to make sure things remain calm once the grand jury decision is announced. Nixon said looting and violence that marred mostly peaceful protests will not be tolerated.

“That ugliness was not representative of Missouri, and it cannot be repeated,” he said.

Nixon said that once the decision is announced, the state highway patrol will work with St. Louis County and city police as one unified command. The National Guard will also be available if needed.

During the protests after the shooting, police donned riot gear and patrolled in armored vehicles, drawing widespread criticism and raising questions about a program that supplies surplus military equipment to local police departments.

A small number of protesters in those first few days attacked squad cars, tossed molotov cocktails at officers and, in a few cases, shot guns in the direction of police and looted local businesses. Police responded with tear gas, smoke canisters and rubber bullets. On many nights, dozens were arrested.

St. Louis County police initially handled security, but criticism of their tactics prompted Nixon to put Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson in charge. He and other police leaders said the response was necessary to protect officers, protesters and the public.

Some protest organizers fear police will be heavy-handed after the grand jury announcement.

Ashley Yates of St. Louis, co-creator of the group Millennial Activists United noted that the vast majority of protests have been peaceful and said Nixon should focus on addressing the systemic problems faced by minority communities, “not reactionary policing techniques.”

It isn’t just law enforcement getting ready for the announcement. Organizers of Yates’ group and other protesters gathered Tuesday for training that includes how to take notes and shoot video of police actions on the streets.

“There is a significant effort to make sure that people’s rights are protected and that there’s no violence on either side,” said Andy Stepanian, a spokesman for several protest groups.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Dear Reader,

When we asked recently what makes TPM different from other outlets, readers cited factors like honesty, curiosity, transparency, and our vibrant community. They also pointed to our ability to report on important stories and trends long before they are picked up by mainstream outlets; our ability to contextualize information within the arc of history; and our focus on the real-world consequences of the news.

Our unique approach to reporting and presenting the news, however, wouldn’t be possible without our readers’ support. That’s not just marketing speak, it’s true: our work would literally not be possible without readers deciding to become members. Not only does member support account for more than 80% of TPM’s revenue, our members have helped us build an engaged and informed community. Many of our best stories were born from reader tips and valuable member feedback.

We do what other news outlets can’t or won’t do because our members’ support gives us real independence.

If you enjoy reading TPM and value what we do, become a member today.

Latest News
Comments
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Investigations Desk:
Reporters:
Newswriters:
Director of Audience:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Publisher:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: