Missouri Governor: 'Violence Will Not be Tolerated' After Grand Jury's Verdict on Brown Case
“Violence will not be tolerated,” Missouri Governor Jay Nixon (D-Mo.) said during a press conference today to discuss preparations being made in advance of a grand jury decision in the Michael Brown case.
Brown, a young black man, was shot to death by white Ferguson, Mo., police officer Darren Wilson in August. Protests that turned into riots continued for days after the shooting.
Nixon was like a daredevil speaking from on top of a powder keg while his audience threw lit matches on stage.
All has not been quiet in Ferguson since the riots of August, when 155 people were arrested. But there has been a greater degree of civility that had been lacking between police and demonstrators.
Although highly organized protesters are still in Ferguson demanding the arrest of Officer Wilson, Ferguson police have not been arresting peaceful demonstrators.
Now, though, there is fear running through Missouri that a grand jury decision in the case will spark new waves of violence unlike anything seen to date.
Gun sales have reportedly spiked as people who live in Ferguson wait in fear of the unknown, according to one local gun shop owner.
“We are getting prepared for war,” Ronardo Ward, a Ferguson resident, told CBS News. “And that is just crazy.”
Brown’s parents, Lesley McSpadden and Michael Brown Sr., testified before the United Nations Committee Against Torture today.
They testified behind closed doors. But McSpadden told CNN, "We need the world to know what's going on in Ferguson and we need justice.”
”We need answers and we need action. And we have to bring it to the UN so they can expose it to the rest of the world, what's going on in small-town Ferguson,” she added.
Gov. Nixon, joining state and local law enforcement officials at the Missouri State Highway Patrol Troop C headquarters in Weldon Spring, Mo., said more than 1,000 police officers had received additional training before the grand jury investigating the shooting releases its decision.
He said officers from the Missouri State Highway Patrol, St. Louis County Police, and St. Louis Metropolitan Police will operate as a unified command to protect the public.
Among the actions taken by unified command agencies to date: More than 1,000 law enforcement officers have received a total of more than 5,000 hours of additional training. Law enforcement planning efforts have included coordination with fire and EMS services, and the Department of Public Safety has distributed additional communications equipment to ensure seamless communication between agencies.
Nixon also promised to protect the civil rights of those who might protest the grand jury’s decision.
Over the past three months, Nixon has advanced a series of initiatives that his administration said are designed to strengthen communities and address the underlying issues exposed by events in Ferguson.
Missouri’s new Office of Community Engagement, led by former state Senator Maida Coleman, has been gathering input and developing strategies to address the challenges facing low-income and minority communities.
A summer jobs program will connect 2,000 young people from low-income families in the St. Louis region with high-impact summer employment next year.