ST. LOUIS – Missouri’s governor on Wednesday ended the state of emergency that he declared for the St. Louis area ahead of unrest over the Ferguson grand jury decision not to indict the white police officer who shot and killed unarmed African-American 18-year-old Michael Brown.
Gov. Jay Nixon issued his executive order on Nov. 17. Protests, including some that turned violent, broke out on Nov. 24 after St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch announced that the grand jury wouldn’t indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, who is white, for the Aug. 9 shooting death of Michael Brown, an unarmed, black 18-year-old. Wilson has since resigned from the department in the St. Louis suburb.
“I want to thank state and local law enforcement, the leaders of the unified command, and the members of the Missouri National Guard for working tirelessly to protect the public,” Nixon said in a statement. “As the hard work of healing and rebuilding continues, the fact that not a single life was lost as a result of the unrest is a credit to the hard work and dedication of these brave men and women.”
On the night of the grand jury announcement, 700 members of the Guard were deployed in the St. Louis region. Nixon sent in 1,500 more troops after some of the unrest became violent that first night and led to looting and fires that destroyed 12 Ferguson-area businesses.
After deployment of the additional troops, scattered violence erupted the night of Nov. 25.
Protests continued in the following days but the violence ceased as local and state police stayed in charge of crowd control and the Guard protected buildings.
The actions of police have been widely criticized, with protesters and others saying officers were too quick to arrest peaceful demonstrators and displayed tactics that were too militarized.
Alexis Templeton, a 20-year-old college student and co-founder of Millennial Activists United, said Nixon sent the large number of Guard members and police officers to “instil fear.”
“I feel he was trying to run the narrative that protesters were dangerous,” she said Wednesday.
Templeton was among about 75 people who marched from St. Louis police headquarters to St. Louis City Hall – a frequent target of activists – to protest how police handled demonstrations related to the Brown shooting. They also claimed police have been intentionally targeting demonstration leaders for arrest.
Their protesting led to City Hall being quickly shut down. The closing affected office workers and citizens attempting to do city business. The city also cancelled several public meetings scheduled for Wednesday.
Several members of the city’s Board of Aldermen joined protesters outside the building in support of their efforts to gain entry. No arrests were reported and the protest was peaceful.
The Justice Department is conducting a civil rights investigation related to the Brown shooting. It’s not clear when those findings will be released.
Associated Press writer Alan Scher Zagier contributed to this report.