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MO governor activates National Guard in anticipation of Ferguson riots


Ferguson

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(NaturalNews) Missouri Gov. Jeremiah "Jay" Nixon has activated select National Guard units to support state Highway Patrol and St. Louis-area police agencies who may have to deal with unrest following a grand jury's decision concerning its investigation into the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., earlier this summer.

According to an announcement from Nixon's office here, the governor has ordered St. Louis County, St. Louis City, Missouri Highway Patrol and National Guard troops to be placed under a unified command, with St. Louis County acting as the lead agency.

"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," Nixon said in a press release.

Nixon said the unified command will be deployed to counter any violence, looting or rioting, noting that residents deserved to be safe, even as police and Guard forces work to ensure protection of their constitutional rights, including any demonstrators.

Guard will not be at forefront of protests

"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," Nixon said in the release.

Bob McCulloch, the St. Louis County prosecutor, said earlier this month that an announcement of the grand jury's decision would be made later in November.

Meanwhile, a subsequent investigation into the shooting of Brown, who was black, by white Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson, by the U.S. Department of Justice has yet to be completed, CBS St. Louis reported. The Justice Department is conducting a civil and criminal investigation, and has not said when that probe will be complete.

"Our department, like other police departments in the region, has a full time job keeping our neighborhoods safe. We are used to working with other agencies in times of necessity," added St. Louis Metropolitan Police Chief Sam Dotson in the release. "Having the support of the National Guard available will enable local officers to continue to respond promptly to calls for service."

"We have taken tremendous strides over the past three months, as our officers have undergone thousands of hours of additional training and reached out to build strong relationships across the community," noted St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar in the release. "These additional resources will enhance our ability to achieve our key responsibilities: keeping the public safe, protecting property and enabling people to exercise their constitutional rights."

"These past three months have been challenging for our community but we have come together in many measurable ways," Capt. Ron Johnson, commander of Missouri State Highway Patrol Troop C, said in the release. "The power of communication within the community has allowed us to take steps toward peaceful change that demonstrate the true character of North County. The availability of the National Guard will ensure that law enforcement has the resources to protect three things vital to our community: public safety, property and the constitutional rights of all."

'Pre-positioning forces?'

At a news conference the afternoon of Nov. 17, St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay said he was in support of Nixon's decision to activate the National Guard, some units of which were activated to support local police following days of riots in Ferguson in the immediate aftermath of the shooting.

Slay said he was advised that Guard members would not be on the front lines of any protests, but that St. Louis Metro Police would serve in that role.

Nixon's activation order is being viewed by some analysts as pre-positioning anti-riot forces, which is an indication that the Brown grand jury likely has not found enough evidence to level charges against Wilson, who, according to multiple earlier reports, appeared to be defending himself in his own patrol car from an attacking Brown.

Shortly after the Aug. 9 shooting, a video of Brown from a local convenience store just down the street from where he was shot surfaced, appearing to show him shoving the clerk as he tried to stop him from leaving with merchandise that he allegedly did not purchase.

Sources:

http://stlouis.cbslocal.com

http://www.foxnews.com

http://www.kmov.com

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