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Our Opinion: Governor right to deploy National Guard to protests

June 3, 2020 at 5:05 a.m. | Updated June 3, 2020 at 2:32 p.m.

Gov. Mike Parson was right to activate the Missouri National Guard over the past weekend in response to protests around the state.

Protests are mounting across the nation in the wake of the death of George Floyd. Floyd, who was black, died in police custody after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee onto Floyd's neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. The officer, who now faces third-degree murder charges, continued to apply pressure to Floyd's neck even after Floyd said he couldn't breathe and became unconscious.

Parson faced criticism for the decision to activate the guard.

The Associated Press reported St. Louis County Executive Sam Page and state Rep. Raychel Proudie, a Democrat from Ferguson, urged Parson not to send the guard members to the St. Louis area. They said nothing in the community is being destroyed, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. Page said he's spoken to the county's police chief, who assured him local law enforcement would be able to maintain safety.

Local law enforcement across the nation haven't been able to maintain safety, and St. Louis has not been an exception.

The governor had received requests for assistance from Kansas City area officials as a precaution, the Post-Dispatch reported.

In Ferguson on Saturday, the same night Parson activated the Missouri National Guard and put the Missouri Highway Patrol on stand-by, protesters broke windows at the Ferguson Police Department, threw objects at officers, shot fireworks at officers and looted stores.

On Friday night, protesters blocked a downtown St. Louis interstate, set a fire in the road and broke into trucks.

Protesters blocked Interstate 44 for nearly three hours after taking to the streets Friday night. One protester died after climbing between two trailers of a FedEx truck and was killed when it drove away, the AP reported.

In Kansas City, police used pepper spray on people marching through its Westport bar-and-entertainment district Friday night and Saturday morning, the Kansas City Star reported.

On Monday, Parson - a former sheriff - again defended his decision to activate the guard, saying: "You don't start getting prepared for a riot once the riot's taking place."

He's absolutely right.

The Missouri National Guard can serve as important back-up to local law enforcement agencies. Municipalities, along with their elected officials and law enforcement agencies, should thank Parson rather than criticize him.

News Tribune

Print Headline: Our Opinion: Governor right to deploy National Guard to protests


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