Missouri Governor Jay Nixon announces his plan to create an independent commission to study and make specific recommendations for how to make progress on the issues raised by events in Florissant, Missouri on October 21, 2014. The Governor said the effort must include a thorough and wide-ranging examination of the challenges that were exposed and exacerbated by the death of Michael Brown and its aftermath, and offer specific recommendations for overcoming them. UPI/Bill Greenblatt | License Photo
WELDON SPRING, Mo., Nov. 11 (UPI) -- Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon said the National Guard would be prepared to respond in the event of unrest after a grand jury reaches a decision on whether to indict Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown.
The National Guard will be part of a contingent of state and local law enforcement agencies that will step in should protests turn violent.
"This is America. People have the right to express views and grievances, but they do not have the right to put fellow citizens and property at risk," Nixon said Tuesday. "Violence will not be tolerated."
He said police underwent 5,000 hours of training to be better able to respond in the hopes of avoiding the escalating violence like what followed in the immediate aftermath of the Aug. 9 shooting.
"Our dual pillars here are safety and speech," Nixon said. "The vast majority of people who want to speak want to do so in a peaceful fashion."
But community groups say Nixon's plan places blame for previous violence on the wrong party.
"For nearly 100 days, the preponderance of violence has come from the hands of police," said community organizer Damon Davis. "We have proven we can peacefully assemble and function at a protest, can the police say the same?"
Missouri Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson, once seen as a viable liaison between the community and the authorities, joined Nixon, St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson and St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar at the announcement.
But it was clear the community felt it had no voice in the decision.
"Governer Nixon's choice to act unilaterally in this police plan is a slap in the face to every protester who has worked tirelessly over the past 90-plus days to reach peaceful solutions," said Taurean Russell, cofounder of HandsUpUnited.
St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch said the grand jury is expected to complete their work by mid-November, but Nixon Tuesday said no date has yet been determined.