- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 17, 2014

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon said Sunday he was “thunderstruck” to see tanks and police in riot gear in the streets of Fergsuon after the Aug. 9 shooting death of an unarmed black teenager, which has sparked racial tensions and led to chaos and looting in the St. Louis suburb.

Speaking on ABC’s “This Week,” Mr. Nixon, a Democrat, defended his decision to enlist state highway patrol to maintain law and order and to establish a midnight curfew in an effort to defuse an escalating situation.

“All of us were thunderstruck by the pictures we saw. I mean, the overmilitarization … the guns pointed at kids in the street, all of that I think instead of ratcheting down, brought emotion up. And that’s why I made the unique decision to bring in our highway patrol,” he said. “Policing is something where you are involved with the community if it’s succeeding. And in those situations where folks are rolling up heavily armored and they’re pointing guns at folks, that’s impossible to have a dialogue. There are times when force is necessary, but we really felt that that push at that time was a little aggressive, obviously, and those images were not what we were trying to get to.”

It’s been more than a week since 18-year-old Michael Brown was fatally shot by Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson. The incident has led to more than a week of sometimes violent protests and calls for Mr. Wilson to be arrested and charged with murder.

State officials and the U.S. Department of Justice are investigating the shooting, and more than 40 FBI agents are in Ferguson interviewing witnesses, some of whom say Brown had his hands up and was surrendering to authorities when he was shot.

Police on Saturday night used smoke and tear gas on protestors who ignored the midnight curfew, the Associated Press reported. At least seven people were arrested, and another man was shot and critically wounded.

Authorities still are searching for the shooter.

Critics have blasted the initial response by Ferguson officials, both for its military-like nature and for attempts to frame Brown as a villain. Police over the weekend released video footage alleging Brown had robbed a convenience store just before being confronted and shot by police.

“I would liken it to the Keystone cops, but I don’t want to insult the Keystone cops. It’s been very troubled,” NAACP President Cornell William Brooks said.

Mr. Brooks appeared on CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday morning.

He also said a special prosecutor should be appointed to investigate the case given the history of racial tensions in Ferguson.

“This county, this municipality, both have a long history of very troubled relationships with the community,” he said.

President Obama also has taken issue with the police response, including the arrest of several journalists in Ferguson to cover the story.

“We all need to hold ourselves to a high standard, particularly those of us in positions of authority,” the president said. “Police should not be bullying or arresting journalists who are just trying to do their jobs. Now’s the time for healing. Now’s the time for peace and calm on the streets of Ferguson.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Nixon said he continues to engage the local community in an effort to ensure them justice will be done. He also said turning over control to the highway patrol — which has attempted to maintain order without resorting to military tactics — was the right decision.

Story Continues →