Death of michael brown in ferguson: governor declares state of emergency

In these days it will be decided whether the police officer who shot the African-American teenager will be charged. Fearing riots, the National Guard is on standby.

Protests for justice in the Michael Brown case: Clayton, Missouri. Photo: dpa

Authorities are preparing for possible unrest ahead of a decision on an indictment in the case of the African-American teenager shot dead in the U.S. city of Ferguson. Missouri Governor Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency Monday and mobilized the National Guard. It is to assist local police in preventing riots like those that occurred in the days after the Aug. 9 shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown.

A grand jury is to decide whether to charge a white police officer in the fatal shooting. There was no indication that this decision was imminent. But the district attorney’s office had said in advance that it expected to issue a decision between mid- and late November.

"All people in the St. Louis region deserve to feel safe in their communities and to raise their voices without fear of violence or intimidation," Nixon said.

Jurors will deliberate on whether there is enough evidence to indict the officer and, if so, what specific charges will be brought. If charges are filed, a new jury will be selected to decide the suspect’s guilt or innocence at trial.

The U.S. Department of Justice’s own investigation

The U.S. Department of Justice is conducting its own investigation into the case. However, it is not yet clear when these will be completed.

Brown was unarmed when he was shot by the police officer. The background was apparently that the officer had suspected the teenager of a robbery shortly before. The fatal shooting had brought long-standing tensions between blacks and whites in Ferguson to a boil. Two-thirds of the population there is black, and the police officers are almost all white.

A day after Brown’s death, the first riots and looting broke out. Police used armored vehicles and military equipment, which earned them accusations of contributing to further escalation. In the following days, the demonstrators threw stones and Molotov cocktails at the police, who responded with tear gas and rubber bullets.

Also in August, Governor Nixon had declared a state of emergency and eventually activated the National Guard. He did not say how many National Guardsmen would be deployed this time. They were to "protect life and property" at the request of police, Nixon said.

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay said he welcomed the mobilization of the National Guard. He said it would take a "secondary role" and could be stationed at shopping centers or administrative buildings, for example.

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