After Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) declared a state of emergency on Monday days before the Ferguson grand jury is expected to make its decision on whether to indict the officer who shot and killed Michael Brown, the NAACP condemned the decision as “presumptuous.”
NAACP President and CEO Cornell Brooks said the state of emergency declaration only threatens to “stir up tension” and is “both premature in its application and presumptuous in intention” to the “hundreds of peaceful demonstrators who have embraced their Constitutional right to protest.”
He then compared the Ferguson protesters, some of whom rioted and looted, to the peaceful protesters that showed up to Washington, D.C. for Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, the non-violent and peaceful Civil Rights protesters who boycotted buses in Montgomery, and even the original Boston Tea Partiers. Brooks said that “the ability to protest is woven into the very fabric of our nation and should not be stifled by presumptuous leadership.”
“Governor Nixon’s decision to declare a state of emergency without evidence of violence or danger only threatens to stir up tensions and denigrate the peaceful efforts of countless non-violent activists,” he said in a statement. “We at the NAACP will work tirelessly to ensure that the civil rights of the demonstrators are upheld. And finally, we commend as well as stand with those practitioners of democracy who have stood strong for over 100 days.”
After Ferguson was marred by widespread looting and violence in the wake of Michael Brown’s death, which was fanned by the mainstream press, cities across the country are on alert and preparing for worst-case scenarios ahead of the grand jury’s imminent decision. The FBI has warned that violence will be “likely” when the decision is announced.