Gov. Jay Nixon today issued an executive order declaring a state of emergency and authorizing the Missouri State Highway Patrol to put in place a curfew within the City of Ferguson in order to protect public safety and security. Tonight, the curfew will begin at midnight and expire at 5a.m.
The Governor announced the actions from Greater St. Mark Family Church, where he was accompanied by local elected officials; the superintendent of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, Col. Ron Replogle; and Patrol Troop C commander, Capt. Ron Johnson, who the Governor has placed in command of directing security matters in Ferguson.
The following are the Governor’s remarks given today at Greater St. Mark Family Church:
I want to start by thanking all the elected officials, and community and faith leaders here with us, for their work over the past week on behalf of the family of Michael Brown, the people of Ferguson, and the entire St. Louis region.
The tragic shooting death of Michael Brown one week ago today - and the events that followed - left a family grieving the loss of a son, a community wracked by fear and unrest, and an entire world looking for answers and justice.
Over the past several days I’ve heard from the people of Ferguson; I’ve heard their anger about injustice and intimidation.
I’ve heard the unspeakable sadness of a mother who won’t see her son again, and the anguish of parents struggling to teach their kids to trust amid so much strife.
But like all the world, I’ve also seen over the past few days tremendous acts of grace, generosity and courage.
People of all races and creeds joining hands to pray for justice for the family of Michael Brown.
And last night, the courage and resolve of peaceful protesters who stood up against violent instigators.
Volunteers coming out, even in this morning’s steady rain, to help their neighbors pick up the pieces.
As Governor, I’m committed to making sure the forces of peace and justice prevail.
That is why I called on the Department of Justice to conduct an independent investigation of the shooting death of Michael Brown; an investigation that I’m glad to see is being beefed up with additional FBI agents canvassing this area over the next several days.
And that is why, two days ago, I put the Missouri State Highway Patrol in charge of maintaining safety and security in Ferguson.
I want to thank Captain Ron Johnson for his outstanding leadership in helping bring calm to the streets of Ferguson, while maintaining the rights of its citizens to engage in peaceful protest.
As a result of those actions, we’ve begun to see progress.
On Thursday night, peaceful protesters of all ages, races and creeds here in Ferguson, and in cities and towns across the nation, called in one united voice for justice to be served.
And last night, with few exceptions, the folks out on the streets of Ferguson were peaceful demonstrators.
But we also saw a pattern develop last night where, after hours of peaceful protesting, some individuals took to the streets with the intent of committing crimes and endangering citizens.
And that is unacceptable.
Each step of the way this week, I’ve been in touch with local leaders.
And I have just met with them again to discuss the best course forward.
I share their frustration and their conviction that we cannot allow the ill-will of the few to undermine the goodwill of the many, while putting the people and businesses of this community in danger.
If there was an easy way to separate those who hurt from those who help, we would.
But it’s hard, and especially at night we can’t.
So to protect the people and property of Ferguson, today I signed an Executive Order declaring a State of Emergency and implementing a curfew in the impacted area of Ferguson.
Again, this is not to silence the people of Ferguson, but to address those who are drowning out the voice of the people with their actions.
We will not allow a handful of looters to endanger the rest of this community.
We still need more answers about what happened one week ago at Canfield Green.
And I will continue to push for those answers, and demand transparency and accountability and expediency.
But if we are going to achieve justice, we must first have - and maintain - peace.
This is a test; the eyes of the world are watching.
This is a test of whether a community, any community, can break the cycle of fear, distrust, and violence, and replace them with peace, strength, and ultimately justice.
It will not happen in one night, but that is where it will start.
So tonight, let that journey continue.
And in the morning, this community will rise with the sun to renew its quest for justice.
Thank you. God bless you. And God bless Ferguson.