Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has declared a state of emergency and activated the National Guard in advance of a grand jury decision about whether a white police officer will be charged in the fatal shooting of a black 18-year-old in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson. Nixon said Monday that the National Guard would assist state and local police as needed, in case there is civil unrest when the grand jury’s decision is announced, NBC News reports.
St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay said the Guard members would be used more as a visible signal of support, not as front-line law enforcement agents. “My biggest concern is people are safe and the protesters are given their right to express themselves peacefully,” he said after the announcement. “We do everything we can to keep people safe, keep property safe and allow people to express their opinions.”