National Guard Begins Scaling Back in Ferguson, Nixon Says

Missouri is scaling back the presence of the National Guard across the St. Louis region, which last week erupted with protests and looting after a grand jury declined to indict a white police officer in the August shooting death of a black teenager.

Governor Jay Nixon, a 58-year-old Democrat, put the National Guard on alert on Nov. 11, 13 days before the county grand jury’s decision in the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown. In an e-mailed statement today, Nixon cited “improving conditions” for the deployment reduction.

“The men and women of the Missouri National Guard have served the people of the region admirably, and I greatly appreciate their professionalism, bravery and dedication,” Nixon said in the statement.

The Guard, which patrolled the streets of St. Louis and its suburbs in camouflage Humvees, has pulled out of the city of St. Louis. About 1,268 Guardsmen remain in St. Louis County, concentrated in the town of Ferguson. That’s down from a force of 2,200 on Nov. 25, the day after businesses were set ablaze and looted after Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson wasn’t indicted on any charges in the Aug. 9 shooting.

Wilson resigned from the department and will not receive a severance payment or continued benefits, Ferguson Mayor James Knowles said on Nov. 30.

The governor had planned to convene a special session of the state Legislature to provide more funding for the National Guard’s emergency role in St. Louis. Yesterday, Nixon said the special session won’t be necessary to approve the funds.

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