Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Begging The Question

Gov. Jay Nixon of Missouri has ordered a state of emergency for a situation that hasn’t happened yet.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) declared a state of emergency Monday, preempting a grand jury decision in the Ferguson shooting of Michael Brown that is expected to be delivered any day.

The order establishes that the St. Louis County police will be in charge of law enforcement in Ferguson in response to any unrest. It will work in coordination with the Missouri State Highway Patrol and the St. Louis city police. The order lasts for 30 days.

Nixon also issued an executive order activating the Missouri National Guard to assist local law enforcement.

This is different than if a hurricane or a blizzard was predicted and the governor did it out of a sense of precaution.  Weather can be predicted to a degree of certainty.  It’s also different than a situation where there’s a planned demonstration at an event; for example, a march on the Mall in Washington, D.C. and it might be prudent to put out some extra protection for the large crowds.

But this is a grand jury decision, and apparently the governor feels that the ruling will generate violence and damage from, well, those people, and you never know how they will react because, well, you never know with them.

5 barks and woofs on “Begging The Question

  1. In fairness, there is a precedent that I think Nixon wants to avoid: the Rodney King riots. CA was NOT prepared for the aftermath of the original trial, and the unrest was seriously unpleasant. By declaring the SoE now, Nixon at least can get the state prepared if the court lets Ferguson PD off the hook, and for similar unrest among the gun-toting wingnuts if they don’t.

    • That may easily be, but did he have to make it a public statement? Why not just quietly put the police on alert through channels instead of going oh god oh god we’re all gonna die?

      • The biggest problem with the Rodney King events was that the public didn’t know. The rioters got their information from broadcast – but also from word of mouth, and the former didn’t indicate the scale of the latter until the rioting was well underway. And the folks that had the rioting visited on them (the worst damage in LA was in Koreatown) were completely in the dark, and caught quite by surprise. The Asian community in LA took a long time to recover from that, and there was some seriously bad feeling between Koreatown and Compton for years afterward: had they been forewarned it might not have been so traumatic even if the alerts didn’t mitigate the damage.

        There probably are better ways of handling the situation. But if a governor says “regardless of the decision in this case, there’s a strong likelihood that you’ll want to stay indoors with the house locked up for a day or so after the decision is announced”, it does keep folks who do not keep track of such things from putting themselves in jeopardy out of sheer ignorance (and by that I mean ignorance of current affairs). Particularly here, where the initial unrest went on for weeks, where the national press has been involved, and where the initial law enforcement response was so completely inappropriate, a SoE isn’t the worst thing he could have done.

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