(FERGUSON, Mo.) — Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon on Monday issued an executive order declaring a state of emergency in Missouri in advance of the possible announcement of the findings of a criminal investigation into the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer.
Nixon’s order notes the “periods of unrest” over the last three months related to the shooting, as well as the criminal investigations being led by the U.S. Department of Justice and St. Louis County authorities.
“Regardless of the outcomes of the federal and state criminal investigations, there is the possibility of expanded unrest,” Nixon notes, directing the Missouri State Highway Patrol, 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.”
The order further activates the Missouri National Guard to support those law enforcement organizations.
On Nixon’s website, the governor says that “all people in the St. Louis region deserve to feel safe in their communities and to make their voices heard without fear of violence or intimidation.” He added that “public safety demands that we are fully prepared for any contingency, regardless of what the St. Louis County grand jury or the U.S. Department of Justice decides.”
In a phone conference call with reporters on Monday, Nixon was asked if it was his ultimate responsibility how any protests are policed. He said, “We’re, um, you know, it a, you know, our goal here is to, is to, keep the peace and allow folks’ voices to be heard. And in that balance, attempting, you know I am, using the resources we have to be predictable. … I don’t spend a tremendous amount of time personalizing this vis-a-vis me.”
“I prefer not to be a commentator on it. I’m making decisions, as, in a, you know, to make sure we are prepared for all contingencies,” Nixon added.
Asked again if any one official or agency is ultimately in charge in terms of a response, he said, “Well, I mean, it a, clearly, I mean, I, I feel good about the, we worked hard, to establish unified command, to allied responsibilities and now with the additional assets provided by my order today, with the National Guard, you know, we have worked through a number of operational issues.”
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