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State of Emergency declared, National Guard activated ahead of Ferguson decision

Governor Nixon signed an executive order Monday declaring a State of Emergency ahead of a grand jury decision in the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown.

Brown was allegedly shot by Ferguson Police officer Darren Wilson on August 9.

The order activated the National Guard to support law enforcement to prepare for any unrest following the verdict.

“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,” Gov. Nixon said. “These additional resources will support law enforcement’s efforts to maintain peace and protect those exercising their right to free speech. The National Guard is well-suited to provide security at command posts, fire stations and other locations as well as perform other functions that will free up law enforcement officers to remain focused on community policing and protecting constitutional rights,” said Nixon in a news release.

The order states, “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 told reporters on the phone Monday night the state National Guard will serve as “support” in St. Louis County.

“Everything we’re doing is being driven by the dual objectives, what I call the dual pillars,” Nixon said. “You know, keeping the public safe while allowing protesters to speak.”

Nixon said the Guard will work security at the Unified Command post, as well as at places like fire stations.

When asked which agency was in charge of the Unified Command, Nixon didn’t give a specific one. The executive order lists the St. Louis County Police Department, St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department and the Missouri State Highway Patrol as the three agencies in the Unified Command. The order also says the St. Louis County police “shall have command and operational control over security in the City of Ferguson relating to areas of protests, acts of civil disobedience and conduct otherwise arising from such activities.”

The African American Clergy Coalition of Mid-Missouri sent a statement Monday night regarding the Governor’s executive order, saying Nixon “intensified” the situation by bringing the National Guard in.

“Rather than sending the National Guard and police officers from St. Louis County, we imploreGov. Nixon to communicate in a way that expresses sensitivity and support for those workingdiligently to maintain peace,” the statement said.

Nixon said the National Guard’s responsibilities will allow for “community policing” and let the officers stay on the front line of any protests to interact with the crowds.

“My hope and expectation is that peace will prevail,” Nixon said. “But we have a responsibility, I have a responsibility to prepare for any contingency that might arise.”

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