Janai Nelson, LDF Associate Director-Counsel, states that Missouri Governor Jay Nixon declaring a state of emergency before there is an actual emergency sets a “dangerous precedent”:
As America awaits a St. Louis grand jury’s decision on whether to indict a Ferguson police officer in the fatal shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown, Governor Jay Nixon’s decision to declare a preemptive state of emergency in anticipation of the announcement has heightened the anxiety.
Under Missouri law, the governor can lawfully invoke a “state of emergency” on the “actual occurrence of a natural or man-made disaster of major proportions in the state, when the safety and welfare of inhabitants are jeopardized.”
There is no actual disaster in Missouri. Just the governor’s unfortunate presumption about what could unfold over the next week. In fact, Nixon’s emergency order rests on two presumptions: first, that the grand jury will not indict officer Darren Wilson, who is white; second, that the majority black Ferguson community, which has largely been engaged in lawful, constitutional protests since the shooting in August, will react violently and illegally.
Read the full opinion in Reuters.