Missouri governor urged the state’s National Guard to support police in case of violence after a grand jury decides whether to claim guilty the white officer who killed an unarmed black teenager.
“As part of our ongoing efforts to plan and be prepared for any contingency, it is necessary to have these resources in place in advance of any announcement of the grand jury’s decision,” Governor Jay Nixon said in a statement. The order also puts the St. Louis County Police Department, rather than police in Ferguson, Missouri, in charge of policing protests.
“I further direct the Missouri State Highway Patrol together with the St. Louis County Police Department and the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department to operate as a Unified Command to protect civil rights and ensure public safety in the City of Ferguson and the St. Louis region,” Nixon wrote in the order, noting that citizens reserve their right to assemble peacefully
Residents of Ferguson, who took part in numerous protests that followed the Aug. 9 shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, are braced for the possibility of more unrest, particularly if the grand jury decides not to criminally charge Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson.
The past two days have seen protests around the area in anticipation of the grand jury’s report. Several dozen demonstrators took to the streets on Monday in Clayton, Missouri, where a grand jury is meeting.
“We want an indictment. The cops don’t like it,” the protesters chanted as they marched in freezing temperatures. “Something about the way Mike Brown was killed started a fire in me that I can’t ignore,” said one of the demonstration’s organizers, Dhorbua Shakur, 24.
He went on adding that he had little sympathy for area residents who are sick and tired of countless demonstrations, which left some businesses in Ferguson burned out.
“They can turn this off and on with a TV screen. But this is my reality. This is my life,” Shakur said.
Meanwhile, Ferguson Mayor James Knowles expressed confidence in the city’s police department and its chief, Thomas Jackson.
“Right now, what we need is continuity in the police department and the chief has made tremendous relationships with a number of protesters and so I think that’s what those protesters want,” Knowles said. “The conversations we have been able to have with people have been very productive. … We need to have a mutual understanding before we can move forward.”
Michael Brown was shot by white police officer Darren Wilson. The police department in the St. Louis suburb has come under strong criticism for both the death of an unarmed man and its handling of the protests that surfaced after the incident. Unrest has gripped the area for days, including the past two nights despite a midnight curfew.
“People have been asking: How many times was he shot? This information could have been released on Day 1,” Dr. Michael Baden, a former New York City chief medical examiner, who saw the body told reporters in an interview after performing the autopsy. “They don’t do that, even as feelings built up among the citizenry that there was a cover-up. We are hoping to alleviate that,” local media quoted him as saying.