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Gov. Nixon urges Ferguson, Mo., to react with head, not emotions

Nixon held a news conference along with local leaders just shy of 7 p.m. to detail plans by law enforcement in the wake of the announcement, which is now expected to come around 9 p.m.

By Danielle Haynes
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Gov. Nixon urges Ferguson, Mo., to react with head, not emotions
Missouri Governor Jay Nixon makes his remarks as time grows closer to a decision by the Michael Brown Grand Jury at the University of Missouri in St. Louis on November 24, 2014. As tension mounts to hear the decision regarding Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, Nixon says that regardless of the decision, people on all sides show tolerance, mutual respect, and restraint. With Nixon are St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay (C) and Missouri's Public Safety Director Dan Isom. UPI/Bill Greenblatt | License Photo

CLAYTON, Mo., Nov. 24 (UPI) -- Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon urged people to react "with their heads, not their emotions" hours ahead of an announcement by the grand jury investigating the shooting of Michael Brown by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson.

Nixon held a news conference along with local leaders just shy of 7 p.m. to detail plans by law enforcement in the wake of the announcement, which is now expected to come around 9 p.m.

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"Regardless of the decision, people on all sides must show tolerance, mutual respect and restraint, he said.

Nixon was joined by St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley, St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay and Missouri Director of Public Safety Dan Isom, each presenting a similar message, urging calm and promising protection to those exercising their right to assemble.

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"We will protect your right to peacefully assemble and speak your mind," Slay said. "But turning violent or damaging property will not be tolerated."

"I do not want people in this community to think they have to barricade their doors and take up arms," Dooley added. "We are not that kind of community. This is not the time to turn on each other, it's the time to turn to each other. We are one community."

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Nixon said members of the National Guard would be on hand in Ferguson to provide support to local law enforcement and to protect utility substations. The National Guard was called to the area last week after Nixon declared a state of emergency.

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When asked by a reporter if armored tanks and tear gas would be used in response to protesters, Nixon said he would not reveal operational details.

"The bottom line is the police have been trained to make sure we're respecting people's rights to communicate," he said in response to the question. "On the other side, if people are violent or threaten property then resources will be used to manage the issues."

An announcement on the grand jury decision was expected to take place at either 4 or 7 p.m. Monday. That was pushed back to 9 p.m. Monday.

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Brown, 18, was unarmed when he was shot to death Aug. 8 by Wilson.

Sources close to Wilson, who took the unusual step of testifying before the grand jury, have said the officer was defending himself. They say Brown, 18, went for Wilson's gun and later charged at him. Witnesses who spoke publicly in the days and weeks after the shooting said they saw Brown raise his hands in apparent surrender before Wilson fatally shot him.

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Law enforcement sources are bracing for unrest no matter the grand jury's decision. Protesters say they are planning a peaceful shutdown of the business district of Clayton, where the grand jury is meeting.

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Gabrielle Levy contributed to this report.

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