This morning, Jay Nixon, the Governor of Missouri, signed an executive order calling in the National Guard to assist in keeping the peace in the city of Ferguson. Since 18-year-old Mike Brown was shot by a Ferguson police officer last week, the city has been the site of ongoing protests and clashes between local police and protesters as well as on again off again looting of local businesses. Late last week, the St. Louis County Chief of Police was replaced by Captain Ron Johnson of the Missouri State Police. Johnson is African American and a former Ferguson resident. Here’s the text of the executive order.
WHEREAS, a State of Emergency was declared on August 16, 2014, due to civil unrest occurring in the City of Ferguson; and
WHEREAS, the events occurring in the City of Ferguson, Missouri, have continued to create conditions of distress and hazard to the safety, welfare and property of the citizens of the community beyond the capacities of local jurisdictions and other established agencies; and
WHEREAS, additional resources of the State of Missouri are needed to help relieve the conditions of distress and hazard to the safety and welfare of the citizens of the City of Ferguson; and
WHEREAS, an invocation of the provisions of sections 44.010 through 44.130, RSMo, is necessary to ensure the safety and welfare of the citizens of the City of Ferguson.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, JEREMIAH W. (JAY) NIXON, GOVERNOR OF THE STATE OF MISSOURI, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the State of Missouri, including section 41.480, RSMo, order and direct the Adjutant General of the State of Missouri, or his designee, to forthwith call and order into active service such portions of the organized militia as he deems necessary to aid the executive officials of Missouri, to protect life and property, and it is further ordered and directed that the Adjutant General or his designee, and through him, the commanding officer of any unit or other organization of such organized militia so called into active service take such action and employ such equipment as may be necessary in support of civilian authorities, and provide such assistance as may be authorized and directed by the Governor of this state.
I further authorize the Superintendent of the Missouri State Highway Patrol to take such measures, including but not limited to, restricting and/or closing streets and thoroughfares in the City of Ferguson, to maintain peace and order.
This Order shall be terminated upon execution of a subsequent Executive Order.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and caused to be affixed the Great Seal of the State of Missouri, in the City of Jefferson, on this 18th day of August, 2014.
Despite, the rotation in command in Ferguson, relations between the police and the media seem to have gotten no better with video appearing of police apparently threatening to shoot members of the media.
Given how the population of Ferguson has reacted to previous shows of force, it’s unclear just how the National Guard will be utilized to calm the situation. While each state’s National Guard serves that state as its official militia, it’s important to remember that these are military organizations. For many, and I believe its unfair if understandable, the idea of the National Guard operating as a crowd control entity against protesters brings back memories of Kent State more than 40 years ago. Thus far, an increase in force by the authorities has only resulted in more reactive violence from certain parts of the community. Is the National Guard the answer here?