Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) warned protesters on Tuesday that he’s not going to allow a return to violence and chaos in the city of Ferguson.
“As governor the most important part of my job is keeping the people of Missouri safe,” Nixon said at a Wednesday afternoon press conference outlining preparations to keep the public safe. “That ugliness was not representative of Missouri and it cannot be repeated.”
Nixon was fiercely criticised in the immediate aftermath of the protests that erupted in Ferguson last summer after an unarmed African-American teen, Michael Brown, was fatally shot by a white police officer on Aug 9. A number of observers felt the state government’s initial response was insufficient and allowed the situation to spiral out of control. The local police also faced criticism for their violent crackdown on the demonstrations.
According to Reuters, tensions have been building in Ferguson as the community waits to find out whether a grand jury will indict the officer, Darren Wilson, who shot Brown. Some fear a return to disorder if Wilson is not charged and rumours of an imminent decision have reportedly been swirling.
As part of preparations for potential protests following that ruling, Nixon said various law enforcement authorities were drawing up coordination plans and were ready to deploy additional resources if needed. He added National Guard troops would be available for “contingency planning.”
“We must and will be fully prepared,” Nixon vowed.
However, Nixon stressed that a decision from the local grand jury was not expected until “mid to late November” and his preparation measures were designed to maintain order “regardless of the outcome” of the investigations.
“Families must be able to see their kids safely off to school in the morning, walk their neighborhoods at night, and keep the doors of their businesses open without fear for their lives or property. Citizens must also have the right to express themselves peacefully without being threatened,” he said. “That’s why we’ve been working around the clock to prepare to keep the residents and businesses of St. Louis region safe.”
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