With the community of Ferguson, Mo., poised to receive a grand jury decision regarding possible charges in the death of Michael Brown, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency Monday.
Nixon’s decision clears the way for the National Guard and state agencies to work together to help quell any potential unrest.
Ferguson, on the outskirts of St. Louis, has been the scene of emotional protests and clashes with police in the weeks and months since Brown, unarmed at the time, was shot to death by police officer Darren Wilson.
Both St. Louis County and the U.S. Department of Justice also could soon release the findings of their separate inquiries into the killing of the 18-year-old on Aug. 9.
In his executive order establishing a unified command, Nixon said he is ordering all agencies “to protect civil rights and ensure public safety in the City of Ferguson and the St. Louis region.”
Ferguson churches have been working to establish “safe areas” for use during any potential protests, and police have been restocking equipment and gear, as NPR’s Sam Sanders reported last week.
Update at 8 p.m. ET: ‘Potentially Tragic Ramifications’
Gov. Nixon’s action has prompted state Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal to release what she calls a “no-confidence letter” over Missouri’s deployment of the National Guard.
St. Louis Public Radio describes Chappelle-Nadal as “a frequent and fierce critic of the governor despite their shared party affiliation.”
In the letter dated Aug. 18, 2014, Chappelle-Nadal called on President Obama to place the state’s National Guard under federal control.
“Thus far the state of Missouri has proven ill-equipped to handle this explosive and tragic situation. With the state-controlled National Guard on the way, I am concerned about the potential for an incident similar to Kent State occurring, only worse.”
On her Twitter account, the state senator says she wants the National Guard to be under federal control. She also noted that under the state of emergency, “Individual rights can be taken away.”