Missouri Declares State of Emergency Ahead of Grand Jury Decision
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has declared a state of emergency ahead of a grand jury decision over whether to indict Darren Wilson, a Ferguson, Missouri, police officer, in the shooting death of city resident Michael Brown. The state of emergency has been viewed as a precautionary measure, both by the governor in his executive order calling for increased security and by media outlets. The tensions between the groups supporting Brown and Wilson are at a high pitch. Regardless of the decision reached by the grand jury, at least one of the groups is expected to be dissatisfied with the result. The decision has the potential to create violent or unsafe conditions, no matter the resolution reached.
A proactive decision
While protests in Ferguson had been significant shortly after the shooting occurred this summer, they had died down somewhat in recent months. With the potential for the grand jury decision to reignite the tensions felt variously between community members, local police and county and state law enforcement officers, the state of emergency declaration is positioning state resources to reduce the potential for unrest and violence. Specifically, the executive order placed a unified command including the state highway patrol as well as the St. Louis County and Metro Police Departments in charge of protecting civil rights and public safety in the areas of Ferguson and greater St. Louis. This approach places a barrier between the local police department, of which Darren Wilson was a member, and the residents of the area. CNN pointed out that the resolution enumerated the right of residents to protest but balanced that statement with a commitment to public safety and legal forms of demonstration.
Businesses need to stay alert
While Ferguson is a relatively small city, the inclusion of the greater St. Louis area in the edict means companies with assets or personnel in the area have to remain aware of the potential for difficulty reaching facilities, performing work and traveling both locally and abroad. The increased police presence - along with the deployment of National Guard troops - isn't a direct hindrance to business activities, but that could change after the grand jury verdict is announced. Situational awareness will be at a premium for organizations in the area, as careful monitoring of the situation is needed to protect both employees and investments.
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