August 23, 2014

Nixon: We will not be defeated by bricks, guns, Molotov cocktails (AUDIO)

Governor Nixon issued a statement shortly before nightfall and renewed demonstrations in Ferguson:

AUDIO: Nixon statement 

You can watch it at:

The text of the statement:
“Ten days ago, a police officer shot and killed Michael Brown, in broad daylight. Since then, the world has watched a community become engulfed in grief, anger, fear and at times violence.

For a family mourning the loss of a son, it has been a profound personal tragedy. For Ferguson and our entire nation, it has ripped open old wounds that have festered for generations, and exposed difficult issues that communities across our country must still resolve.

But amid all the pain and distrust and anger, we’ve also seen tremendous acts of grace, courage, and kindness as the people of Ferguson try to maintain peace, while they call for justice for the family of Michael Brown. In Ferguson, people of all races and creeds are joining hands to pray for justice. Teenagers cooking meals for law enforcement officers. Community leaders demonstrating courage and heroism throughout the night in standing against armed and violent instigators. Volunteers coming out to pick up littered neighborhoods.

They are the faces of Ferguson. They are the faces of this region. They are the faces and soul of Missouri.

For them, for the family of Michael Brown, for all the parents who have had their sons taken from them much too soon, and for all the children dreaming of a brighter and better future, we now have a responsibility to come together and do everything we can to achieve justice for this family, peace for this community, and have the courage to address the problems that have divided us for too long. Real problems of poverty, education inequality, and race.

So how do we do that?

First, we must protect the people of Ferguson.

The officers of the Missouri Highway Patrol, St. Louis County, St. Louis City, and other jurisdictions are united in working valiantly to protect the public, while at the same time preserving citizens’ rights to express their anger peacefully.

As we’ve seen over the past week, it is not an easy balance to strike. And it becomes much more difficult in the dark of night, when organized and increasingly violent instigators take to the streets intent on creating chaos and lawlessness.

But we will not be defeated by bricks and guns and Molotov cocktails. With the help of peaceful demonstrators, pastors and community leaders, Captain Johnson and law enforcement will not give up trying to ensure that those with peace in their hearts are not drowned out by those with senseless violence in their hands.

Second, a vigorous prosecution must now be pursued.

The democratically elected St. Louis County prosecutor and the Attorney General of the United States, each have a job to do. Their obligation to achieve justice in the shooting death of Michael Brown must be carried out thoroughly, promptly, and correctly; and I call upon them to meet those expectations.

Finally, once we have achieved peace in Ferguson and justice for the family of Michael Brown, we must remain committed to rebuilding the trust that has been lost, mending what has been broken, and healing the wounds we have endured.

This is hard. Nothing about this is simple. We won’t always get it right, but we’re going to keep trying. Because Ferguson is a test, a test not just for the people of this community, but for all Americans. And it is a test we must not fail.

Last week I met with and prayed with the mother of Michael Brown. She has lost a son who she can never bring back. But what we can do is work together to ensure that Michael Brown’s death is not remembered as the tragedy that sparked a cycle of violence and distrust, but rather marks the beginning of a process of healing and reconciliation.

So I ask that we continue to stand together as we work to achieve justice for Michael Brown, restore hope and peace to the streets of Ferguson, and march together toward a future of greater opportunity and understanding for all of us.”

President Obama weighs in on ‘de-militarization’ of police

Since police forces responding to protests in Ferguson rolled out military-grade equipment and gear, some critics have pointed to it as supporting their argument that local police forces need to be “de-militarized.” That includes members of Missouri’s Congressional delegation.

President Barack Obama on Monday spoke publicly about Ferguson for the second time.

President Barack Obama on Monday spoke publicly about Ferguson for the second time.

President Barack Obama was asked about his position on the issue while discussing the latest in Ferguson, on Monday.

“I think one of the great things about the United States has been our ability to maintain a distinction between our military and domestic law enforcement,” the President says. “That helps preserve our civil liberties. That helps ensure that the military is accountable to civilian direction.”

Obama says he thinks there will be bipartisan support for studying the issue.

“How the funding has gone, how local law enforcement has used grant dollars … to make sure that what they’re purchasing is stuff that they actually need.”

“There is a big difference between our military and our local law enforcement, and we don’t want those lines blurred,” says Obama.

New survey of food needs in Missouri (AUDIO)

A new study of heavy demands on Missouri’s food pantries adds to a less-than encouraging picture of hunger in Missouri.

Feeding America, a national organization of 200 food banks, says it’s likely every Missourian knows someone who relies of food pantry partners to feed themselves and their families.  The survey says almost 1.2-million Missourians patronize the hundreds of food closets, food kitchens, and similar sources. And Missouri Food Bank Association spokesman Monica Palmer   says the need is growing.

“Sixty percent of our partner food programs have reported an increase in the volume of  clients…So we get more clients, we need more food, we need more funds…You hear things about the recession being over and the economy improving but for our most vulnerable citizens, that’s not the picture that we have.” she says.

She says the study also shatters some stereotypes about those who get food help.  It says 97 percent of those who benefit are not homeless or living in temporary housing.  Seventy percent are white. Twenty percent are black.  Three percent are Hispanic.  Almost half of the households report at least one person had a job last year.

A USDA study last year said only Arkansas had more people facing daily food uncertainty.

AUDIO: P:almer interview 10:43

Speaker not worried about veto session support of members who outlasted Sinquefield-backed opponents

There are again 110 Republicans in the Missouri House after a special election in two districts that coincided with the August Primary. That would be enough to overturn vetoes during September’s veto session, but only if all Republicans are in the Capitol and if all of them vote for the overturn.

That could prove to be a big “if,” according to House Speaker Tim Jones (R-Eureka), who says he’s only really concerned about unforeseen circumstances.

“It is difficult any time to get 110 people in the same place at the same time,” says Jones. “You never know when people are going to have tragic events in their family or that may affect them personally. We hope everyone remains healthy. We hope no one has any serious family issues that come up. We hope no one gets stuck … we had some members that got stuck because of travel in years past.”

Some members who are term-limited out of office at the end of the year might also not want to drive from far reaches of the state for the veto session, particularly if there isn’t a bill or two of particular concern for them or their districts.

Then there is the question of four members who faced primary opposition backed by financier Rex Sinquefield, who had voted against the override of a veto on a tax cut bill – a bill that Sinquefield wanted to become law.

Those four representatives told Missourinet’s Bob Priddy that they are somewhat upset with the party over that situation, but did not say it would impact how they will vote in the veto session.

Bob’s stories with four Republicans who beat Rex Sinquefield-backed primary opponents:

The Four:  Sinquefield tried to buy seats in the House (AUDIO)

The Four:  time for campaign reform (AUDIO)

Jones says he met with those four members during the party’s caucus earlier this month. He says he does anticipate having their votes.

“I absolutely do,” says Jones. “I welcomed them back and congratulated them. They’re on the team. They’ve always been on the team and I don’t think that will be a problem at all.”

Jones says as far as he knows, all lawmakers want to return for the veto session to override Governor Jay Nixon’s vetoes.

“The General Assembly has shown leadership on so many issues this past session – on budget, on appropriate spending, on education, in health care reforms, on education reforms, on tax cuts,” says Jones.

The veto session begins September 10.

Earlier story:  House Speaker discusses possible veto overrides on budget items, tax policy bills

National Guard to Ferguson; Brown attorney says there might have been a struggle

Governor Nixon has ordered the National Guard to go to Ferguson.  He signed an executive order early this morning, citing what he called “Deliberate, coordinated and intensifying violent attacks on lives and property” in the city.  He says the Guard will help the Highway Patrol and local police restore order there.

He says he has taken the step after talking to Police chiefs in St. Louis and St. Louis County and the superintendent of the highway patrol.

Law enforcement authorities say three people were wounded in shootings overnight, none of them involving officers.  Seven or eight people have been arrested for failing to disperse.

The Ferguson-Florissant School District has postponed its first day of school.  Classes had been scheduled to begin last Thursday…then today.  But late last night, the district cancelled today’s opening because of “continuing unrest’ in some parts of Ferguson.”

The private autopsy done for Michael Brown’s family shows he was shot at least six times including twice in the head, with one of the bullets entering the top of his head, indicating  Brown was bent forward when he was hit.

The autopsy was done by former New York City chief medical examiner Michael Baden (bah-den), at the family’s request.   The  report says Brown was shot four times in the right arm and all of the wounds were from the front and not at close range.

But the lead attorney for the Brown family, Daryl Parks, told CNN this morning no rush to judgment should be made about the findings because further forensic investigations are underway.  However he says the is a “real possibility” that Brown and the policeman who shot him did struggle in the police car for control of the officer’s gun.  The president of the St. Louis County Police Association, Gabe Crocker, told CNN this morning that the autopsy results bring some eyewitness accounts of the shooting into question.

Two other autopsy reports will be issued later.