Gov. Jay Nixon (D-Mo.) has ordered the National Guard into Ferguson after police and protesters clashed on Sunday night. The governor didn't inform the White House, according to BuzzFeed, which quotes an administration official saying they got no "heads up." President Obama took a break from his vacation at Martha's Vineyard to hold meetings at the White House on both the situation in Ferguson, Missouri, and the U.S. military campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq.
Nixon said he was sending the National Guard to "restore peace and order to the community." According to Missouri State Highway Patrol (MSHP) chief Ron Johnson, whose agency took over for the Ferguson police department last week, there were reports of bottles, rockets, and Molotov cocktails being thrown at protests last night, that police were shot at, and that protesters set up barricades to block police. "I had no alternative but to elevate the level of our response," the Washington Post quoted Johnson as saying.
Prior to the MSHP takeover of riot control in Ferguson on Thursday—which saw peaceful protests and a decidedly demilitarized police presence at night—the Ferguson Police Department and various St. Louis law enforcement agencies deployed militarized units in response to reports of looting during some of the protests. At the time the counterinsurgent-like response appeared disproportionate, looking for a problem that didn't exist. As I warned last Thursday, based on Johnson's reports, the police's militarized response to protests may have helped create a cause for that response. On Friday, Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) called for "martial law" to be imposed in Ferguson. Residents, like one the Post spoke to, blamed the unrest on outsiders and people who wanted to "vent and loot." The NAACP has backed Nixon's decision to send the National Guard in.
Last night attorneys for Michael Brown's family released the results of a private autopsy, and in a press conference today said the release came after clashes started in Ferguson last night, and said Brown's mother wanted to see the officer who shot Brown last Saturday arrested. Attorney General Eric Holder ordered the FBI to conduct its own autopsy, but has otherwise not provided any updates on the Department of Justice investigation in Ferguson.
On MSNBC a few minutes ago, Nixon avoided answering the question of whether Ferguson police chief Tom Jackson should be fired for releasing surveillance video allegedly showing Brown robbing a corner store and strong-arming its owner. The host Andrea Mitchell, and Holder, appeared to blame the video for a re-eruption of violence on Friday night, something he apparently did not inform the Highway Patrol, nominally in charge, he was going to do. Perhaps Nixon can't.
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