National Guard activated in anticipation of Ferguson grand jury decision

Posted at 9:39 AM, Nov 18, 2014

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon has declared a state of emergency and again activated the National Guard in an effort to curb unrest in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson.

A grand jury is weighing possible criminal charges against Darren Wilson, the police officer who fatally shot Michael Brown on August 9. The jury is expected to announce their decision in mid-to-late November.

When Nixon last declared a state of emergency, he put the Missouri State Highway Patrol in charge of a unified local police command and later activated the National Guard to provide security around the command center.

This time, the activation of the National Guard is a precautionary measure, and the Guard will play a secondary role, supporting local law enforcement.

According to Gov. Nixon, the St. Louis County Police Department will be in charge of security in Ferguson and would work with the Highway Patrol and St. Louis city police as part of a unified command to "protect civil rights and ensure public safety" in other jurisdictions.

Wilson is white, and Brown, 18, is black and was unarmed at the time of his death. Weeks of protests followed the shooting, and unrest included looting and rioting. West Florissant Avenue in particular was hit hard. Many businesses on the street have boarded up their windows in anticipation of further protests.

The police response to the initially peaceful protests drew criticism for the use of tear gas, riot gear and armored vehicles.

A small number of protesters attacked squad cars, tossed molotov cocktails and shot at officers, who responded with tear gas, smoke canisters and rubber bullets.

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon addressed the nation in a joint news conference with law enforcement officials on Tuesday, Nov. 11, ahead of the expected grand jury decision.

Nixon stated that police will work to protect peaceful protesters after the grand jury makes a decision, but those who exhibit violence will be prosecuted.

More than 1,000 police officers have received additional training ahead of the decision. A combined command of state, St. Louis County and St. Louis city will provide security for expected protests. 

Information from The Associated Press is used in this report.