Missouri Governor Jay Nixon held a press conference near St. Louis Tuesday afternoon to discuss contingency plans surrounding Ferguson in the wake of the upcoming grand jury decision regarding the shooting death of Michael Brown by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. During the press conference, Nixon and the heads of local law enforcement stated that they will do anything and everything within their control to ensure violence does not erupt in the area once the decision is handed down.
The governor pointed out that the state’s National Guard is part of that plan and will be on standby until they are deemed necessary to support local law enforcement with security in and around Ferguson. When pressed on that point by reporters, Nixon stated that he will be ready to give the order to send the National Guard into the city and possibly beyond. There will be a unified command that will carry out the governor’s contingency plan regarding any post-decision demonstrations. The chiefs of the St. Louis County and St. Louis City police departments, as well as Captain Ron Johnson of the Missouri Highway Patrol, will head up the command.
During the press conference, while Nixon spoke about the need to peacefully protest, he spoke in a terse tone and reiterated throughout that “violence will not be tolerated.” He stated that 1,000 local police officers have received over 5,000 hours of training in preparation for protests. Nixon insisted that there will not be a repeat of the property damage or violence that occurred in August. Overall, it seemed that Nixon wanted to assure St. Louis area residents and business owners that protesters will be dealt with in a harsh fashion should they gather in large numbers and voice their displeasure if Wilson is not indicted.
Below is an excerpt from the press conference, courtesy of AP:
Obviously, based on the tone and content of the press conference, Nixon and local authorities are fully expecting Wilson to be cleared of any charges. Even if recent media leaks hadn’t showed that is the direction the grand jury proceedings are going, it seems likely that St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch has apprised Nixon and others of the outcome. There was no point to this ‘news’ event Tuesday other than to get the area prepared for the inevitable.
While Nixon may have felt he scored political points with area residents by showing he is on top of the situation, activists, protest organizers, journalists and some local leaders didn’t think much of the message he delivered. Many especially took umbrage with the notion that all violence was directly caused by protesters. Another point of contention was the mobilization of a thousand police officers and National Guard under the assumption that protesters need to be contained.
Violence will not be tolerated. Keep saying that as military grade vehicles and guns come into #Ferguson
— KayRay (@RE_invent_ED) November 11, 2014
“Violence will not be tolerated.” Ironically, this is the message of protestors as well. pic.twitter.com/zSoZ1IBYAr
— Antonio French (@AntonioFrench) November 11, 2014
Police actually used the word “uprising” twice in the press conference today. That word has deep historical roots with slave revolts.
— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) November 11, 2014
WTF was this press conference for?To tell the world police are getting ready to kill American citizens for protesting an injustice?#Ferguson
— 3ChicsPolitico (@3ChicsPolitico) November 11, 2014
The police are so concerned about property.. WHAT ABOUT PEOPLE?
— ShordeeDooWhop (@Nettaaaaaaaa) November 11, 2014
Of course, if Darren Wilson is indicted of a crime in his killing of an unarmed black teenager and immediately arrested, then there will likely be no large-scale demonstrations. However, if you were to ask those who have been protesting for nearly 100 days now, Darren Wilson’s fate was decided a long time ago. In fact, it was baked into the cake due to the current power structure in the area. That is why these are no longer just protests by people who are angry and hurt. It is a movement.
Justin Baragona is the Managing Editor at Politicus Sports as well as Senior Editor at PoliticusUSA. He was a political writer for 411Mania.com before joining PoliticusUSA. Politically, Justin considers himself a liberal but also a realist and pragmatist. Currently, Justin lives in St. Louis, MO and is married. Besides writing, he also runs his own business after spending a number of years in the corporate world. You can follow Justin on Twitter either with his personal handle (@justinbaragona) or the Sports site’s (@PoliticusSports).