Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon announced Monday that he is mobilizing the Missouri National Guard as the St. Louis area anticipates the announcement of a grand jury decision on whether or not to charge Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the Aug. 9 shooting death of Michael Brown.
“Gov. Jay Nixon today signed an executive order activating the Missouri National Guard to support law enforcement during any period of unrest that might occur following the grand jury’s decision concerning the investigation into the death of Michael Brown,” reads a statement from the governor’s office.
“The Governor said the Guard will provide support for law enforcement’s objectives of maintaining safety and protecting constitutional rights.”
“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. “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.”
During a press conference held last week, Nixon stopped short of saying that the National Guard would be mobilized. He did say that it would be called upon if needed and that law enforcement intends to respect the First Amendment rights of protesters, but that violence will not be tolerated. Protests held shortly after Brown’s death in August in some cases devolved into looting and near-riot conditions. Police deployed tear gas and fired rubber bullets at protesters.
Nixon gave no indication if Monday’s announcement was being made with knowledge that a grand jury decision would be announced soon. St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCullough has previously said the decision would come sometime in mid-November.
Last week was thought to mark the end of the grand jury proceedings.