FERGUSON, MO (KTVI) – The National Guard has boots on the ground Monday in Ferguson. Governor Jay Nixon ordered the National Guard into Ferguson Sunday after consulting with Captain Ron Johnson of the Missouri State Highway Patrol and other law enforcement officials in Ferguson.
Monday represented the third change in police tactics to handling protesters in Ferguson following the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown by a white Ferguson police officer just over week ago.
The governor has lifted the midnight to 5 am curfew for the residents of Ferguson in the hope of calming the high emotions and tensions running in Ferguson over the death of Michael Brown.
National Guard units began deploy Monday morning from a guard facility in south St. Louis for the Buzz Westfall Center (formerly the Northland Shopping Center) that has been the command center for police.
The plan is for the National Guard military police units to free up police officers at the command center, so that more law enforcement resources can be used to police protester, protect property and the citizens of Ferguson. Guard units will be placed in a limited role of providing protection of the police command center after what Captain Ron Johnson said was a planned and coordinated attack on the command center Sunday night.
The National Guard will have no role in patrolling Ferguson or policing protesters. Overall operational command will stay with the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
At a very brief news conference Monday afternoon, at which reporters were not allowed to ask questions, a Missouri National Guard Brigadier General and Captain Ron Johnson of the Missouri Highway Patrol gave few operational details for Monday night. They said they are ready to insure the rights of citizens to peacefully protest.
“We have a well trained and well seasoned soldiers that will assigned to protect the command headquarters here. Our soldiers have been well trained and overseen many missions of state response over the years and they are well equipped to handle this mission and well resourced.” said Brig. Gen. Greg Mason of the Missouri National Guard.
“We will not allow vandals, criminal elements, to impact the safety and security of this community. We will not allow these elements to disrupt or impact the soul of this community.” said Ron Johnson.
Perhaps, one other reason the Guard is being stationed at the Command Center is that last night police had to head off protesters headed to the Command Center. One other change for Monday night, West Florissant will be closed to traffic this evening.