The Governor of Missouri, Democrat Jay Nixon, announced on Thursday that the Missouri Highway Patrol would take control of Ferguson away from the local and county police in the city beset with riots and unrest after an officer involved shot an African American teenager last Saturday.
In announcing the intervention, Governor Nixon said, “My message to the people of Ferguson is that these voices have been heard.”
Nixon also stressed the fact that the man who would head the detachment, Missouri Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson, is African American and grew up in Ferguson.
The governor also took pains to note that the change in responsibilities is not necessarily a rebuke of the St. Louis County police, who have until now been in charge as riots spread throughout the area.
Other agencies are also vying to sweep in and either supervise or replace local authorities as the investigation into the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown begins.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s Department of Justice announced that it would be launching its own probe into the incident.
“I am deeply concerned that the deployment of military equipment and vehicles sends a conflicting message,” Holder said in a statement released after President Obama announced that he had directed the DOJ to look into the matter.
Governor Nixon is also directing state agencies to look into the incident but is vowing to get control over the situation even before that.
“Ferguson will not be defined as a community that was torn apart by violence but will be known as a community that pulled together to overcome it,” the governor said at a Thursday press conference.
Later on Thursday, Captain Johnson was already in Ferguson and meeting with protesters on the street.
“We’re going to have some conversations with them and get an understanding of what’s going on,” he told the media.
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