Monday afternoon, Governor Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency ahead of the grand jury decision to indict Darren Wilson. But activists and civil rights groups believe the measure is premature and actually fuels the fire in Ferguson.
“Whereas, regardless of the outcomes of the federal and state criminal investigations, there is the possibility of expanded unrest; and whereas, the State of Missouri will be prepared to appropriately respond to any reaction to these announcements; and whereas, our citizens have the right to peacefully assemble and protest and the State of Missouri is committed to protecting those rights; and whereas, citizens and businesses must be protected from violence and damage…..I…by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and Laws of the State of Missouri…hereby declare a State of Emergency exists in the State of Missouri,” Nixon said in Executive Order 14–14. He also activated the Missouri National Guard.
At the federal level, the FBI is also on alert. “The announcement of the grand jury’s decision … will likely be exploited by some individuals to justify threats and attacks against law enforcement and critical infrastructure,” it said in an intelligence bulletin, which also “stresses the importance of remaining aware of the protections afforded to all U.S. persons exercising their First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and freedom of assembly.”
But civil rights organizations like the NAACP argue that the declaration quells free speech, and is actually fueling tensions ahead of the jury’s verdict. “Governor Nixon’s decision to declare a state of emergency without evidence of violence or danger only threatens to stir up tensions and denigrate the peaceful efforts of countless non-violent activists. We at the NAACP will work tirelessly to ensure that the civil rights of the demonstrators are upheld. And finally, we commend as well as stand with those practitioners of democracy who have stood strong for over 100 days.”
Local groups and activists who have continuously organized in Ferguson since August 9, took to social media to vocalize their anger.
Our country is in a state of emergency. And not becuz of protestors. Every 28 hours, a black man is killed by police. Let's get it right.
— Hands Up United (@handsupunited_) November 17, 2014
The United States Gov has officially declared war upon black ppl in the state of Missouri in the name of protecting a killer
— Creating. (@TefPoe) November 17, 2014
— Tory Russell (@VanguardTNT) November 17, 2014
Human rights organizations are also warning government leaders and law enforcement.
— AmnestyInternational (@amnestyusa) November 17, 2014
The grand jury announcement will come any moment.