Missouri Governor Jay Nixon said that he will call the Missouri National Guard, should violence erupt after the grand jury decision in the case of Darren Wilson. During a press conference on Tuesday, Nixon also said that more than 1000 law enforcement officials have completed 5,000 hours of specialized training over the past two months, in preparation for the verdict, which will be announced any day now.
In addition to the use of the National Guard, three police agencies including St. Louis County Police, city police, and highway patrol will follow the same command, if Darren Wilson is not indicted and protesters take to the streets. Many departments have invested in new riot gear.
Nixon also said that law enforcement officials have been in talks with “churches, schools, [and] businesses” to “listen to people’s concerns and develop strategies to specifically address them.”
“These measures are not being taken because we believe violence will occur but because we have a responsibility to plan for any contingency,” Nixon said during a press conference on Tuesday. “Violence will not be tolerated. Residents and businesses of this region will be protected.”
He also explained that he wants to maintain public safety while allowing people to speak peacefully.
But members of the community are interpreting a different message. According to Michael Brown’s cousin, Ty Pruitt, “The police are getting ready for war when they should be getting ready for a trial. That to me means they’ve already made their decision. We still feel terrible. Right now we feel about the same way we felt when [Brown] was lying dead in the middle of the street for four and a half hours.”
Activist Ashley Yates of Millennial Activists United also expressed concerns with Nixon and his plan. “Until the governor chooses to truly address the systemic issues that the murder of Michael Brown brought to the surface for many Americans, no press release or commission board will truly help this community move forward from this tragedy.”
Meanwhile, Brown’s parents, Michael Brown Sr. and Lesley McSpadden, spoke before the U.N. Committee Against Torture on Tuesday, calling for global intervention in America’s policing tactics. The couple asked a panel to recommend that “racial profiling and racially-biased police harassment across the jurisdictions surrounding Ferguson” stops, and for the Department of Justice to “conduct a nationwide investigation of systematic police brutality and harassment in black and brown communities, and youth in particular,” adding that the “methodology and findings of this investigation must be made publicly available.”
“Whatever the grand jury decides in Missouri will not bring Michael back,” Brown said. “We also understand that what you decide here may save lives.”