Civil unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, has become such a huge problem that the state has had to resort to drastic measures.
Governor Jay Nixon announced during a press conference on Saturday that he’d signed an order to declare a state of emergency in the town, which was rocked by the shooting death of Michael Brown, the Associated Press reports.
“We must first have and maintain peace. This is a test. The eyes of the world are watching,” the governor said during a press conference on Saturday. “We cannot allow the ill will of the few to undermine the good will of the many.”
Although Jay recognized that many people have tried to protest peacefully, the governor said that te actions of more aggressive protestors can’t be ignored. He explained that “the state would not allow a handful of looters to endanger the community.”
That’s why the governor has also implemented a curfew, which requires citizens to be off the street by midnight until further notice. No one is allowed out of their homes until 5 a.m.
Captain Ronald Johnson of the Missouri State Highway Patrol has been placed in charge of security during the state of emergency. Although tear gas was used on protestors Saturday morning (without his command), Ronald vowed that it would not be used to enforce the curfew.
The officer instead tried to assure the people of Ferguson that authorities would “communicate with protesters and give them ample opportunity to observe the curfew.”
He added, “You saw people sitting in the street and they had the chance to get up. And that’s how it’s going to continue.”
The promise not to use tear gas was almost immediately broken as officers deployed during the first night of the curfew, the AP reports.
It seems a bit odd that the governor would declare a state of emergency for protesting. In recent memory, it’s usually been done while coping with the aftermath of a natural disaster.
That might be why declaring a state of emergency seems extreme some. Of course that could be because it’s been more than 20 years since the L.A. riots when the governor of California did the same thing following Rodney Kings beating at the hands of several LAPD officers.