Governor's actions deserve explanation

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, according to a new report, ordered the Missouri National Guard to stand down during the heat of the looting and mayhem in Ferguson following the grand jury's decision in the Darren Wilson case.

If that report is true, it would seem the Governor has some explaining to do.

It was widely expected that some disturbance would erupt if the grand jury decision favored the law enforcement officer following the shooting death of Michael Brown.

In fact, the potential for problems was so great that Nixon activated the Guard in preparation.

But when the verdict hit the fan, the Guard went missing.

Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder was the first to smell a rat. Kinder suggested that Nixon's reluctance to put the Guard on the front line of the disturbance was a result of interference from Attorney General Eric Holder and the Obama White House.

Nixon vigorously denied that charge.

But as the night unfolded, looting and massive disturbances quickly overwhelmed law enforcement and the result was millions of dollars in damage in Ferguson.

To compound the problem, Nixon earlier had indicated the need for a thorough investigation and vigorous prosecution of the law enforcement officer involved in the shooting.

Nixon's words condemned the law enforcement actions and brought an instant reproach for his slanted comments.

And then, when a substantial presence was needed to address the looting and violence, Nixon now appears to have tied the hands of the National Guard.

In his State of the State address this week, Nixon touched on the Ferguson incident and called for programs that would create understanding and hope for that small community.

There may have been a good reason for Nixon's decision. And it's easy to criticize decisions as a Monday morning quarterback.

The Governor may well deserve a pass on his decision. But the residents of Missouri also deserve some additional explanation on the rationale that put the Guard in the background when all hell was breaking loose.

As an interesting side note, reports indicate a meeting was held by political and law enforcement officials just prior to the grand jury announcement. It was at that meeting apparently that the groundwork was designed to address the potential chaos.

It was following that meeting that Nixon apparently ordered the Guard to remain where they were instead of taking up their post at the Ferguson Police Department.

At that meeting was Sen. Claire McCaskill. We wonder what her involvement was in this questionable decision.

Lessons must be learned from Ferguson. Among those is that you can never allow a disturbance to destroy parts of a community if you have the resources to stop it.

Apparently, we had the resources but for some reason they were not used.

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