A state House-Senate oversight committee has met for the first time as it prepares to investigate the Nixon Administration’s response to unrest in Ferguson, particularly on the night that the decision of a grand jury not to indict the officer that fatally shot Michael Brown, Junior, was announced.
St. Louis County senator Eric Schmitt (R) says he and other elected officials from that region want answers.
“After a state of emergency was called for and the National Guard was in St. Louis, and the National Guard was in Clayton, and the National Guard was downtown, why the National Guard was not in Ferguson when one of our communities was burning,” Schmitt said.
St. Louis City senator Jamilah Nasheed (D) was stronger in her criticism.
“A majority black district burned under a state of emergency,” said Nasheed. “They protected Clayton, they protected the airport, they protected all of those areas, but when the black community needed them the most the Democratic governor wasn’t there.”
Columbia senator Kurt Schaefer (R) was elected the chair of committee. He says it has all the powers of a circuit court, and with those powers he said it is prepared to subpoena Governor Jay Nixon (D) if it feels that would be necessary.
“I think we have a ways to go before we get to that point but I think the committee is very dedicated to make sure that anyone who has information relevant to the inquiry comes before the committee,” Schaefer said.
Nasheed says the state’s plan for the night the grand jury decision was announced failed, and calls that “misconduct.”
“This thing may be bigger than you [reporters] can even [fathom]. Once we start subpeonaing records and looking at the cross-communication and the cross-dialog … because what I heard coming from the mayor in Ferguson is that this could be semi-criminal.”
When asked what actions might be taken against Nixon or anyone else based on the committee’s findings, Schaefer told reportsers, “We have all legislative action available to hold anyone accountable.”
Asked specifically if that would include an attempt to impeach the governor, Schaefer said it would be premtaure to predict an outcome.
(link to video) Senator Eric Schmitt discusses what issues the committee will investigate (courtesy; Missouri Senate Communications)
(below) Senator Jamilah Nasheed says she’s heard things from Ferguson’s mayor that she thinks are “semi-criminal.”