Governor Jay Nixon says the past four months have been “difficult,” when asked about how he, personally, has dealt with the criticism he’s faced for his handling of issues in Ferguson.
Nixon sat down for a one-on-one interview with Missourinet’s Mike Lear.
“It’s been very easy for folks who want to be critical here to have a pretty big microphone,” said Nixon. “That same level of energy has not been spent on solutions or progress.”
Nixon has told reporters many times in his six years as governor that he doesn’t like to look in the past, but he says that doesn’t mean he is not “introspective” about challenges he or the state has faced.
“This has been a very long protest that we need to translate into some progress,” Nixon said of the response to the shooting of Michael Brown, Junior August 9 and the events since, “Otherwise it will go down in the history books as just a very long protest, and that comes from both sides. All sides.”
He said many things have happened in the past four months that have sparked anger that have been out of his control.
“I didn’t say that the body should be left in the street for four and a half hours,” Nixon said, referring to the handling of Brown’s body after the shooting.
Nixon said once the Highway Patrol responded to Ferguson, “we had a really good first night. I thought that community policing attitude shifted the tone … but I think then that the release of the name and the tape without direct communication there, I think, flared things up once again,”
In talking out of things out of his control, Nixon also referred to the video of Michael Brown’s stepfather, taken shortly after the grand jury decision not to indict officer Darren Wilson was announced, shouting to protesters to, “burn this bitch down.”
“The fact that the ultimate announcement of the grand jury decision was late at night and that some members of the family were far more strident that night than they had been to that point. The family had been, clearly, pleading for peace,” said Nixon.
Nixon stands by the plan the state had in place for the night that announcement was made, calling it “solid.”
“The unified command with those law enforcement officers out there in the front. The National Guard with 700 members guarding static locations. The Guard in reserve if necessary,” said Nixon. “The fact that we have not lost a life or had a serious injury on either side since August 9 shows a stunning level of discipline by law enforcement, the Highway Patrol and the National Guard, and I’m very proud of their work.”
A state of emergency remains in place in Missouri as part of the executive order Nixon issued November 17 putting that plan in place. In that order he wrote, “regardless of the outcomes of the federal and state criminal investigations, there is the possibility of expanded unrest.”
Asked whether he is concerned, now, about additional violence when the federal investigations’ findings are released, Nixon said, “I think a lot of the energy was focused initially on the state investigation and the grand jury. While we have continued to see protests and challenges, they certainly have not been to the same degree that they were around that time, but certainly we’re watching very closely.”
That executive order is set to expire next week unless extended by the governor.
AUDIO: Mike Lear’s one-on-one interview with Governor Nixon, 18:16