Governor Jay Nixon Should Call Out The National Guard—To Protect The Citizens of Missouri From The Police

Posted at 11:10 p.m. local time on August 13, 2014:

On Tuesday night Governor Nixon publicly admitted that he “prayed for the parents and loved ones of Michael Brown,” the 18-year-old-African American gunned down by a white policeman in Ferguson, Missouri. He said he also “prayed for the residents and businesses and children” of the community. He further claimed that he had “prayed for justice” and “for wisdom” and “for peace.”

Well, there is no peace in Ferguson. There isn’t much wisdom, and certainly, at least right now, no justice.

What looks like an occupying force, complete with military-esque armaments and attitude, has threatened the citizens of Ferguson, trampling not only their constitutional rights, but arresting and teargassing reporters who were guilty only of committing journalism. That occupying force is local police. Missouri cops.

This has to be stopped.

Where is not only the Democratic governor of our state, but where is our Democratic attorney general, Chris Koster? He’s the top law enforcement official in the state. His job is to protect Missouri citizens, even if that job involves protecting those citizens from Missouri cops. The attorney general’s only statement on what happened in Ferguson, as far as I can tell, is this:

I support Governor Nixon’s call for a thorough, independent investigation by the United States Department of Justice of the circumstances leading to the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson. An outside inquiry led by the DOJ provides both impartiality and credibility to the inquiry’s ultimate findings.

That’s as it should be. But what about the conduct of the local police departments after the shooting? What about this:

Occupation of Ferguson Mo

What happened on Wednesday night here in Missouri is outrageous. We employ a governor, who is the commander-in-chief of the Missouri Army National Guard, and attorney general to deal with such matters. They should stop hiding behind prayers and the federal Department of Justice and do their state jobs. Word is out that Governor Nixon has decided to go to Ferguson on Thursday. Good.

But he should be bringing the National Guard with him.

[Top photo: AP]

16 Comments

  1. RDG.

    I agree. Instead of police officers charged with protecting and serving the community, Ferguson has a para-military force occupying the community.

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    • Juan, that is exactly what it looked like to me. I was watching live online. I was watching as the police, guns aimed at protesters, essentially repealed the Constitution. Sickening.

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  2. Ben Field

     /  August 14, 2014

    Obviously the police are out of control when reporters are arrested and assaulted, a state senator is tear gassed, and innocent protestors are shot with rubber bullets. None of these actions were in response to looting, only protest. Pointing rifles at protesting citizens is offensive to a free nation. It is only a matter of time before another cop kills another with their hands up and this escalates out of control. The cops won’t follow the law in releasing the name of the officer, or in allowing journalist their right to cover the story so expect similar citizen actions if the National Guard doesn’t step in. It would seem the cops have already declared martial law.

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    • Ben,

      As I write this (9:12 pm), things look much better. Governor Nixon came up with a solution that looks like it might work. Let’s keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best. The militarization of police forces, in this state and elsewhere, was the wrong move and Ferguson shows why.

      Duane

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  3. ansonburlingame

     /  August 14, 2014

    Duane,

    I agree something must be done to get control of the situation in Ferguson. But remember Kent State if you can. Using military force to ensure peace is not what miltary power is designed to do. Tom Clancy wrote an iconic (but fictional) book on that subject, using military power to interdict drug traffic and the ensuing chaos when that took place.

    There is lawless behavior going on in Ferguson. Law enforcement power is needed, not military power. Soldiers are not trained in non-violent confrontation with mobs. Soldiers are trained to use force to win wars, on a battle field with guns in hand and using them.

    Great “bad” is going on in Ferguson now and both police and citizens, it seems to me, are gravely wrong in that case. From what I have read police are unable to control the mobs roaming those streets now. Of course it is wrong to slam a reporter up against a pop machine, handcuff him and arrest him when no wrong was observed. But it is equally wrong to loot “pop machines”, whole stores, terrorize citizens with mob violence, as well.

    Yes, the Governor is now confronted with a national crisis, one that is only fueling more racial divide, from both sides. “Something” must be done to quiet that violence. But I for one do not believe military force is the way to do it. Maybe an unarmed National Guard to take to the streets to increase the manpower to control a mob. Would you like your son to be ordered to do so??

    I don’t have a solution for sure. But your forceful way to restore calm will, maybe, just wind up with a Guardsman shooting someone. Welcome, back, to Kent State.

    One other point. Ferguson is 70% black. Almost all the terror on the part of citizens, the stores being looted, the cars being burned are black property, black citizens I would assume. The mob is trying to harm the police, shots even having been fired at them, the police, it seems. What are the “good citizens” of Ferguson doing right now I wonder. Is there something more such good citizens could be doing?

    Think of a situation where you were leading a labor protest that got out of hand with criminal activity on the part of your protestors. Would you want the guard called in to control YOUR “mob” or would you do something extraordinary to regain calm and lawful behavior on the part of all concerned?

    Remember the lone man in Tienamin Square that stopped tanks in their tracks? We have not yet seen that courage and character in Ferguson, at least in print or on TV.

    Anson

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    • Ben Field

       /  August 14, 2014

      Anson,
      I believe your experience in a submarine viewing the world through a periscope has resulted in your myopic view of racial prejudice. This young black man was shot multiple times while his hands were in the air. The black Missouri State Senator was tear gassed. He’ll even white reporters were arrested and assaulted, not by black people but by lawless police officers. You have absolutely no idea of the prejudice that can result in your death because of your skin color. It’s certainly fortunate for us that fat, old, retired white men such as you and myself do not experience that same prejudice because a myopic, mouthy, old coot like you would get us both killed. If you truly want to understand the prejudice these people live with then go to Ferguson and say what you said here. I suspect you will get “educated”!

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    • Are you kidding me? Did you read the title of the post? Here: “Governor Jay Nixon Should Call Out The National Guard—To Protect The Citizens of Missouri From The Police.” I wasn’t asking for Nixon to bring in the Guard to calm what you call “the mob,” I was asking him to bring in the Guard to calm the militarized police. When the police have morphed into some kind of nasty and unprofessional (and poor) imitation of a military occupation, then the citizens need some kind of protection (and the overwhelming, and I mean overwhelming, majority of people protesting were not part of a “mob,” but part of a group of earnest objectors to what is becoming fairly obvious: an unjustified killing of a teenager and an inappropriate police reaction to people exercising their First Amendment rights). After all, what citizen could defend himself, or herself, against such Pentagon-supplied weaponry?

      Fortunately, Governor Nixon came up with what looks like is a better idea: put a Highway Patrol veteran, an African American, in charge and allow him to demonstrate how real police work is done. We don’t now need to talk about Kent State or Tienanmen square. We just need to talk about proper conduct by police authorities.

      I am sorry you misunderstood the point of this post, but I thought I did all I could to make it clear.

      Duane

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  4. Valid points, both sides here. The police behavior is outrageous and civil rights have been trampled. Homicide too, in all likelihood. But Anson has a point about the National Guard lacking expertise in policing. In fact, it looks to me like the Missouri police are already wielding military weapons and have the demonstrators outgunned if not outnumbered.

    Seems to me what’s needed is not more force but a publicly visible federal investigation by the DOJ (FBI) to bring justice to the crimes committed here. It worked in the deep South in the 1960’s. Holder needs a guy in the Gene Hackman mold (Mississippi Burning) to lead a team down there and kick some police ass and take some names. And, for what it’s worth, I agree with Duane that the Governor and Missouri AG have been shamefully feckless in this fiasco.

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    • Ben Field

       /  August 14, 2014

      Jim,
      I disagree that more force is not needed. The police force there to monitor the protests have called the protesters “f***ing animals” and fired rubber bullets at them. Obviously the protesters can have no respect or trust in these kind of “professionals”. That is why I agree the National Guard should be called as they are less confrontational than police and the public at large has more trust in them not to use the “blue wall of silence” against them. The Ferguson Police are responsible for this entire debacle and should not be allowed to confront the protesters, put them on traffic duty and let the Guard diffuse the situation.

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    • As I told Anson, he misunderstood the point of the post. Of course I wouldn’t advocate the National Guard coming in to police the citizens and protesters in Ferguson. I was advocating that the Guard come in and police the police. Military engagement with military engagement. Fortunately, Governor Nixon came up with another solution, hopefully one that will work.

      And you are completely correct in saying that some “police ass” needs to be kicked. They totally mucked up the integrity of the process, from the minute that teenager was gunned down until last night.

      Duane

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  5. Bbob

     /  August 14, 2014

    The events occurring there only show the militarization of many police forces across the US. Surplus automatic army weapons and armored vehicles give local cops an opportunity to use them as lethal weapons. Remember the adage, “If your only tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”

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  6. genegarman

     /  August 14, 2014

    My two cents worth for consideration: because on its face a local police officer is the apparent offender directly responsible for the killing and community reaction, the local police department should be promptly suspended from community responsibility, the state national guard deployed into community service, and the police officer charged with manslaughter, if not murder. The trial should be judicially expedited through the open court system and judgment determined as quickly as possible.

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  7. ansonburlingame

     /  August 15, 2014

    It seems now, Friday about noon ., that a form of peace has been restored. Law enforcement was used, not military power. I’m all for that approach.

    Now we should all just sit back and calm down to let legal authorities decide who did what to whom and why.

    But I must say, I am amazed at Duane’s further explanation. Maybe I got that one wrong too!! He seems to want military power to be used against police power in an American city to restore peace. Bring in military power to control aberrant police power???? What would you expect, a showdown at the OK Corral between police and the Guard?? No, I suspect Duane wanted REPLACEMENT of police power by the Guard, a trained military force. Thankfully the Governor did not take that advice and used a better police force to restore peace. Fine with me.

    Now I fully expect to read further comments herein, prejudging anything to do with police actions and ignoring the lawlessness of some citizens, or at least minimizing such citizen actions. I will hope for a more balanced approach, starting with the TRUTH about how the two black man and one police officer acted when this whole thing started. But there is now much more to revealed as well since rioting, looting, etc. took place. All of you will seem to now call for legal action against other police officers that used tear gas, smoke, rubber bullets, etc. Well go ahead if you like to call for such. But I will watch closely to see just how many looters are caught and what will be done to them for breaking the law.

    I will be challenged on that point I suppose because after all those looters were just upset over previous police actions and thus they were victims of police and had every right to ………, right??

    Here we go again but I must admit a new twist is now applied. I suppose I formed my current views because I read the paper and watched TV about Ferguson “through a periscope”, or better yet I just don’t yet understand why it is now expected and appropriate to really get mad and loot, burn, etc. because a cop did something that they didn’t like to someone else!!

    The reall queston is where were the calm and professional police and local citizens last Sunday, or whenever this all started? Why does it take violence in the extreme to bring those people out, some five days later?

    Anson

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  8. Anson: “Where were the calm and professional police”? You are a moron.
    THE COPS you refer to WERE BUSY KILLING AND WOUNDING CITIZENS!!
    You apparently have a complete lack of empathy to go along with your racism and apparent learning disorders.

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