Missouri Governor Jay Nixon will announce that St. Louis County law enforcement will be relieved of duty in Ferguson, which has been roiled by protests after the shooting death by police of an unarmed teenager, according to Representative William Lacy Clay.
“The governor just called me and he’s on his way to St. Louis now to announce he’s taking away St. Louis County police out of the situation,” Clay, a Missouri Democrat, said in a telephone interview. He added that Nixon may ask the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation to step in.
Clay said that he has been urging U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to “take over the entire situation because we will not get justice for Michael Brown and his family and friends if the St. Louis county police and prosecutor have a say.”
Police and protesters are engaged in a standoff entering its sixth day in the wake of the Aug. 9 shooting of Brown was shot to death by a Ferguson police officer. Police say the 18- year-old had fought the officer over his weapon, while Ferguson residents say Brown was shot while putting his hands up in surrender.
President Barack Obama, who is vacationing on Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, hasn’t reacted publicly to what’s happening in Ferguson since Aug. 12 when he issued a written statement calling the death of Michael Brown “heartbreaking.”
Obama was briefed last night on what’s going on there by Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser, and Holder, both of whom are also on the resort island, White House Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz said in an e-mail yesterday.
The president is scheduled to speak to reporters at about 12:15 p.m. New York time, the White House said.
The president had another briefing on the topic scheduled for this morning and “senior staff will continue to update the president as needed,” Schultz said.
A White House spokesman referred questions about the situation to the Justice Department. The FBI on Aug. 11 opened an investigation into the Brown shooting, with Holder calling for a “fulsome review.”
Clay said federal and state authorities have waited too long to take control of the situation.
“Yeah, because they are relying on the St. Louis County authorities to do the right thing. Now the governor realizes that they’re not going to do the right thing,” Clay said. “It will become apparent to the federal, to the Justice Department soon, that they won’t be doing the right thing.”
Police officers in military-style regalia yesterday fired tear gas at groups of protesters, as demonstrations in the St. Louis suburb continued. Reporters from the Washington Post and The Huffington Post were arrested.