Governor Jay Nixon has announced the creation of an independent commission that will study the unrest in Ferguson since the shooting of Michael Brown August 9 and make recommendations for how to make progress on the issues behind it.
He plans to announce its membership next month.
Nixon says the commission will have three main goals: to conduct a thorough, wide-ranging and unflinching study of the underlying social and economic conditions underscored by the unrest in the wake of Michael Brown’s death, to tap into expertise needed to address key concerns identified by the Commission, from poverty and education to governance and law enforcement, and to make specific recommendations for making the St. Louis region a stronger, fairer place for people to live.
Nixon announced the Commission today at St. Louis Community College-Florissant.
“How do we move on from shouting past one another in the streets, on the internet and the evening news?” Nixon asked. “Some people would tell you that the choice is one thing or the other: trust or force, speech or silence, black or white. It is far more complicated than that.
“Legitimate issues have been raised by thoughtful voices on all sides. Shouting past one another will not move us to where we need to go. Outsiders eager to grab the national spotlight and push their own agendas do not have the best interests of this community, this state or the nation at heart. We need to solve these problems ourselves, we need to solve them together, and we need to act now,” Nixon said.
Nixon stresses the commission will not investigate the Michael Brown shooting, and says the responsibility for that investigation remains with the St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney and grand jury, the FBI, the federal Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney General.
“Whatever the outcome of their investigations, we must move forward together,” says Nixon.
He included a stern message that seemed targeted at those who have resorted to looting and property damage, or might in the future.
“More acts of violence and destruction like those we have experienced at times during the past 73 days will not be tolerated, and will only hurt the communities that have suffered the most at the very time they need restoration and healing.
“Our faith, our laws, and the principles on which our democracy was founded demand more of us,” said Nixon.
Nixon has been harshly criticized by some for his handling of the situation in Ferguson, including several state legislators from the region. Some accused him of being “missing in action” during the early days of unrest.
The governor has defended his actions and says he was involved from “very early in the process.” He also created the new Office of Community Engagement to look for solutions to problems regarding race, educational and economic opportunities.