Less than a week after announcing preparations for possible unrest, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency on Monday ahead of a grand jury announcement relating to this summer's shooting death of Michael Brown.
The governor explained his preemptive move, citing the possibility of violence "regardless of the outcomes of the federal and state criminal investigations" in the case of Ferguson officer Darren Wilson. The order empowers Nixon to direct a Unified Command to "protect life and property and assist civilian authorities."
I further order that the St. Louis County Police Department shall have command and operational control over security in the City of Ferguson relating to areas of protests, acts of civil disobedience and conduct otherwise arising from such activities.
Tonally, this is something of a departure from Nixon's previous state of emergency in which he emphasized "that the rule of law must be maintained" in Ferguson.
Monday's order also activates the National Guard, forces that St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay later clarified won't be confronting protestors on the front lines.
While many await the verdicts, according to a number of reports, protestors have already amassed outside the courthouse in Clayton, Missouri, where the grand jury has assembled. Along the way, dozens of demonstrators blocked intersections in downtown, carrying signs and marching in the freezing weather.
Despite the crowds, Nixon's declaration may also be an overcorrection. As the August protests grew occasionally violence, Nixon came under fire for waiting a week after the shooting of Michael Brown to declare a state of emergency.