Nixon Calls for Calm in Ferguson Before Grand-Jury Decision

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon pleaded for understanding after a grand jury announces whether charges will be brought against a white Ferguson police officer who shot an unarmed black teenager.

“Our shared hope and expectation is that regardless of the decision, people on all sides will show tolerance, mutual respect and restraint,” Nixon, a Democrat, said in a televised press conference in St. Louis.

The grand jury’s decision will be announced at 8 p.m. local time, according to an e-mail from Edward Magee, executive assistant in the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney in St Louis County.

The panel of nine whites and three blacks has been hearing evidence for months regarding the Aug. 9 killing of Michael Brown, 18, by Officer Darren Wilson in the St. Louis suburb.

St. Louis County Executive Charlie A. Dooley said that no matter what is announced, people should “think with their heads” and not act on emotion.

“I do not want people in this community to think they have to barricade their doors and take up arms,” Dooley said. “I do not want people to accidentally shoot or harm someone out of fear. This is not the time to turn on each other.”

Standing Guard

Nixon has activated the Missouri National Guard, declared an emergency and created a “unified command” of police agencies in anticipation of unrest. The move drew criticism from activists, who said it escalated tensions.

The governor said the National Guard will provide security at critical locations such as firehouses, police stations and utility substations.

Hundreds of police officers have been trained, and Nixon said the lines of communication are open with protesters to safeguard their rights while trying to avoid violence.

“Together, we are all focused on making sure the necessary resources are on hand to protect lives, protect property and protect free speech,” he said.

The response to the first round of protests, including armored vehicles and officers in military gear who leveled rifles at protesters, drew international rebuke.

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