So Governor Nixon has preemptively declared a State of Emergency in St. Louis ahead of further possible riots resulting from a Grand Jury decision in the shooting of Michael Brown. The problem is that while this sounds ominous, the reality is that nothing much has changed. The executive order detailing the deployment of the National Guard leaves the entire issue eyebrow-raising-ly vague. While it’s clear the Guard is only meant to be used in a support role, there is zero information on where the guard will be deployed (even as far as cities) or how many guardsman will even be in the area.
The most interesting part of the last several days to me was Nixon’s discussion of a “unified command” which was a phrase he used for the first time a few days prior to the state of emergency declaration. Up until that press conference, we were told during the mandated trainings that the County would be in charge of the County and the City would be in charge of the City. Everyone was going to be operating essentially as their own respective agencies in their own respective venues (primarily due to the fact that there is expected unrest in Ferguson, St. Louis City near Shaw, and Clayton, instead of just Ferguson this time). This was in contrast to what happened in August when you had municipalities as far west as Weldon Springs in St. Charles sending officers to bolster a force of countless other muni’s, St. Louis City and County, St. Charles City and County, and the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
One other interesting, but related, footnote to come out of the “unified command” was that Capt. Ron Johnson (MSHP) was still going to be in a supervisory role. Obviously, about a month or so ago, St. Louis County was put back in charge of the Ferguson response. Rumors were spreading that Johnson was not only being removed as the head of the Ferguson response, but also as a Capt. of Troop C. From what I was told, he was being transferred to some type of face-saving ceremonial “training” position in Jefferson City after complaints by other troopers and St. Louis County Police to the Superintendent of the Highway Patrol, Ron Replogle. The complaints of the other troopers and the county were supposedly similar to my complaints from the blog entry “Oh Captain, My Captain.” Whether the rumors were false or whether Jay Nixon simply overrode the reassignment is not clear. Since Ron Johnson is NOT ultimately in control of this response anymore, even as an equal co-leader of the “unified command,” clearly something administrative happened.
Like anything and everything else that happens in Ferguson these days, the State of Emergency Declaration is being used as evidence that the Grand Jury Decision is imminent. However, Bob McCulloch supposedly hasn’t even spoken with the Governor since this all began back in August. Like the other developments in this case, it seems as though no one really knows when the Grand Jury decision will finally be reached. To me, this is evidence that the most likely reality is that the Grand Jury is still deliberating and the indictment/no indictment question is still in the air for all the speculating and tea-leaf reading that has taken place. We just don’t know anything yet.
Naturally, having said that, watch the decision take place tomorrow, now that I’ve said that it won’t…