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State of emergency will make Ferguson mess worse

Missouri governor Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency last week in preparation for the conclusion of a St. Louis county grand jury’s investigation into police officer Darren Wilson’s fatal shooting of Ferguson teenager Michael Brown. A state of emergency allows the governor to call the National Guard to keep the peace in the case of riots.

While The Tartan understands that Governor Nixon and his administration could be profoundly concerned about potential responses to the grand jury’s verdict, militarizing the situation will only serve to escalate this conflict.

Wilson may or may not be charged with a criminal offense. If he is, he will face the court and potential conviction, thus setting a precedent that police shootings of unarmed citizens are unjustifiable. If he isn’t, there will be riots across Missouri and perhaps further. After Wilson shot Michael Brown in August 2014, the protests escalated into riots and led to the burning of a gas station and the looting of several businesses. As a cause for further concern, gun sellers claim that sales of firearms have increased dramatically in the past few weeks, according to The Washington Post. However, neither of these occurrences justify the involvement of the National Guard.

Calling in the National Guard sends the message that the Missouri government has no expectation of peaceful protests. It says that the government expects the worst of its citizens. Additionally, it suggests that the Missouri government has anticipated the outcome of Wilson’s investigation and knows that citizens will not like it.

The government and police’s long-standing habit of responding to situations with disproportionate and overwhelming force is a large part of what created this turmoil in the first place. The Missouri government should show more faith in its citizens and consideration of the sensitivity of this issue. Doing so would demonstrate a more nuanced understanding of the situation on their hands.