Though news Beauty World - a store specializing in hair products for black women - will soon reopen should spur incredible economic growth and outside investor confidence...
|The question of who told the National Guard to stand down on November 24... Gov. Nixon takes the blame (for now)|
Two fire district officials from St. Louis County said Wednesday that they had been promised that the Missouri National Guard would protect firefighters called to Ferguson if protests turned violent last fall.
But they learned otherwise when fire district leaders arrived at the emergency operations center on Nov. 24 to prepare for a long-awaited grand jury announcement.
“That’s when we were told they weren’t able to get the Guard,” said Greg Brown, chief of the Eureka Fire District.
As a result, firefighters abandoned their hoses and left buildings burning when gunfire and looting erupted that night in the aftermath of the grand jury’s decision that former police Officer Darren Wilson would not face criminal charges in the Aug. 9 shooting death of unarmed teen Michael Brown.
“To me, that was the most heartbreaking thing of all of it,” said Matt LaVanchy, assistant chief of the Pattonville Fire District. “We wanted to help that community.”
The fire officials told their stories Wednesday night to a joint legislative committee that is investigating the way Gov. Jay Nixon’s administration handled the protests in Ferguson.
Nixon had declared a state of emergency in advance of the grand jury’s decision. He said then that “violence will not be tolerated” and that St. Louis County police would be in charge in Ferguson, with the National Guard deployed to assist.
But after the announcement on Nov. 24 that Wilson faced no charges, shots rang out and businesses burned on West Florissant Avenue and South Florissant Road.
Nixon later said that officers sacrificed property in order to save lives.
He repeated that position on Wednesday, defending the decision not to deploy National Guard troops along the Ferguson-area business corridors in advance of the looting and arson. Instead, he chose to allow St. Louis County Police officers, trained under the Peace Officer Standards and Training program, to handle the initial wave of rioting.
“The theory here and the practice was that people who had been on the front edge of this, literally getting yelled at, getting things thrown at them, getting called a lot of names, that those POST-certified officers were the people to be in front,” Nixon said.
“None of us are happy that there were shots fired,” Nixon told reporters. “None of us are happy that there were buildings burned down. This wasn’t a joyful time for anybody.
“But I think when this is looked at, the discipline that was shown there, we are talking about what tactically should’ve been done and what buildings were damaged. It’s a lot better than the discussion after Kent State.”The last white mayor of 70 percent black Ferguson, James Knowles, was completely left out of the decision making process in the days leading up to the Nov. 24 insurrection:
Ferguson Mayor James Knowles told a panel of Missouri law makes that St. Louis County Police and the Highway Patrol did not include him in the decision making process for his city during the unrest.
The mayor also said he never heard back from Governor Jay Nixon’s office after asking for National Guard help. Instead, Knowles said it took him calling Senator Clair McCaskill and Attorney General Chris Koster before the National Guard moved into the area.