Gov. Parson Promises to Put End to Civil Unrest

Adjutant Gen. Levon Cumpton, leader of the Missouri National Guard, speaks during a news conference June 2, 2020, as Gov. Mike Parson looks on. Photo by Beaumont Enterprise (Beaumont) / News Tribune.



George Floyd should never have died the way he did, and law enforcement involved should be held accountable for it, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson reiterated Tuesday. But Parson also did not mince words when he said the violence that’s followed some of the protests in Missouri over Floyd’s death and broader issues of injustice will not be tolerated.

Parson said he’s calling up more than 1,000 Missouri National Guard troops to help support the Missouri Highway Patrol and local law enforcement agencies.

The announcement came after a particularly violent night in St. Louis, where a retired St. Louis police officer was killed by looters and four other law enforcement officers were shot.

Parson said the people who shot the retired officer should be held accountable — “and no, they’re not protesters. They’re criminals, and they’re thugs, and they need to be held accountable,” the governor said.

“We’re not going to have police officers, we’re not going to have citizens of Missouri being shot in our streets in this state, and we’re going to put an end to it with whatever forces I have as governor of the state of Missouri, whether that’s every member of the Highway Patrol, whether it’s every member of the National Guard — I will call up all that to stop the violence in this state,” Parson said.

George Floyd, a black man, died May 25 in the custody of the Minneapolis Police Department after a white officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for several minutes while Floyd pleaded for air. That officer has since been charged with murder.

Parson eclared a state of emergency in Missouri on May 30 due to civil unrest, activating the Missouri National Guard to support civilian authorities and provide other assistance as needed.

The National Guard has already been ready to offer assistance to authorities; Guard members were involved with monitoring Monday night’s protests in Jefferson City, which were peaceful, and were followed by minor property damage in the form of broken windows at downtown businesses after the protest had ended.

The latest state of emergency will end only with a subsequent executive order — unlike the state of emergency for the COVID-19 pandemic, which is currently set to expire June 15.

Parson activated the National Guard on March 26 to help with response to the pandemic, and the Guard is still doing that as well, particularly to assist with testing for the disease.

Adjutant Gen. Levon Cumpton, leader of the Missouri National Guard, said that despite being “deeply engaged” with the COVID-19 response, there are more than 10,000 troops ready to assist the Highway Patrol and local law enforcement.

“Law and order has to take place in this country for us all to survive, and we will commit to local enforcement,” Parson said.

Department of Public Safety Director Sandra Karsten said the Highway Patrol offered assistance Monday night in St. Louis, Springfield, Jefferson City and other areas.

Once protests end, Parson said, people should go home, and he encouraged protests to happen only in daylight.

“Things need to be done different in society. We need to address issues that the African-American community has, but not through violence, not through what we’re seeing out there on the streets,” the governor said.

When it comes to law enforcement officers’ decisions of when and how to disperse crowds or otherwise use means such as tear gas, rubber projectiles and marker rounds, Karsten said: “Those (decisions) are made by commanders on the scene observing what’s taking place, and once an unlawful activity has occurred, the commander has the option to take further action,” in​​cluding use of chemical munitions.

“Kansas City, as well as other agencies that I’ve observed take great steps to avoid doing that, but when forced into the situation after having provided many warnings, they will take action,” Karsten said.

“There are after-action reviews on some of these activities, and many agencies will conduct a debriefing afterwards,” she added.

By Phillip Sitter | News Tribune

BJA Medal of Valor Nominations Now Being Accepted

The Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) is now accepting nominations for the 2019-2020 Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor.

Every day, public safety officers risk their lives to protect America’s citizens and communities. To honor that commitment, Congress passed The Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor Act of 2001, which created the Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor, the highest national award for valor by a public safety officer.

The Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor is awarded, by the president or vice president of the United States, to a public safety officer who has exhibited exceptional courage, extraordinary decisiveness and presence of mind, and unusual swiftness of action, regardless of his or her own personal safety, in the attempt to save or protect human life.

For the purpose of this award, a public safety officer is defined as a person serving a public agency, with or without compensation, as a firefighter, law enforcement officer, or emergency services officer. The term “law enforcement officer” includes a person who is a corrections or court officer or a civil defense officer.

Eligibility for the 2019-2020 Medal of Valor is limited to incidents that take place between June 1, 2019 and May 31, 2020. Nominations will be accepted from May 29, 2020 until July 31, 2020.

Visit the Medal of Valor site to learn more and to submit a nomination.

FBI Seeking Information on Individuals Inciting Violence

St. Louis firefighters are protected by police officers as they put out a fire at at looted 7-Eleven convenience store at 201 N. 17th on Monday, June 1, 2020. Photo by Robert Cohen for the St. Louis Post Dispatch.

 

The FBI respects the rights of individuals to peacefully exercise their First Amendment rights. Our mission of protecting the American people and upholding the Constitution is dual and simultaneous, not contradictory.

Accordingly, we are committed to apprehending and charging violent instigators who are exploiting legitimate, peaceful protests and engaging in violations of federal law. The continued violence, potential threat to life, and destruction of property across the United States interferes with the rights and safety of First Amendment-protected peaceful demonstrators, as well as all other citizens.

To help us identify actors who are actively instigating​​ violence in the wake of Mr. George Floyd’s death, the FBI is accepting tips and digital media depicting violent encounters surrounding the civil unrest that is happening throughout the country.

If you witness or have witnessed unlawful violent actions, we urge you to submit any information, photos, or videos that could be relevant to the case at fbi.gov/violence.

You may also call 1-800-CALL-FBI (800-225-5324) to verbally report tips and/or information related to this investigation.

Emptier Roads Became More Lethal During Quarantine

During the pandemic, “we have open lanes of traffic and an apparent open season on reckless driving,” said Lorraine M. Martin, president and chief executive of the National Safety Council. (Photo by Volkan Furuncu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)


As stay-at-home directives took effect due to the coronavirus pandemic, Americans began driving less and covering fewer miles. But there was a down side: the emptier roads became riskier and more lethal.  In March, the number of motor-vehicle deaths nationwide was down, but the mileage death rate was up compared to the same time period a year ago.

Those are the highlights of preliminary estimates released by the National Safety Council, a nonprofit advocacy group.

“Disturbingly, we have open lanes of traffic and an apparent open season on reckless driving,” Lorraine M. Martin, president and chief executive of the council, said in a statement. “Right now, in the midst of a global pandemic and crisis, we should take it as our civic duty to drive safely. If we won’t do it for ourselves, we should do it for our first responders, our law enforcement and our healthcare workers, who are rightly focused on coronavirus patients and should not be overwhelmed by preventable car crashes.”

Based on early data, the council’s researchers found that the number of miles driven in March this year decreased 18.6% compared to March 2019, but the fatality rate jumped 14 %, despite an 8 % drop in the total number of roadway deaths.

In March, 31 states and the District of Columbia reported fewer deaths compared to March 2019, three states reported no change, and 16 states reported more deaths.

The National Safety Council noted that quarantines and shelter in place directives across the country were the most likely reason for the significant drop in the number of deaths, but that  more information and insight was needed to determine “the alarming rise in death rates.”  

By Tanya Mohn | Forbes

AG Schmitt Partners with Attorneys to Prosecute Rioters

Missouri’s Attorney General Eric Schmitt is partnering with U.S. Attorneys to prosecute demonstrators who commit acts of violence during protests in Missouri.

In a Monday news release, the Missouri Attorney General’s Office said it will give the power of prosecution to the U.S. Attorney’s Offices in the Eastern and Western Districts allowing these attorney’s offices to prosecute people who “who commit acts of violence and rioting in Missouri.”

This includes prosecuting individuals who were charged and arrested by federal authorities over the weekend in St. Louis.

“George Floyd’s death is tragic and heartbreaking. Missourians have the right to protest peacefully, and should be able to exercise that right in a safe manner as thousands have done across the country over the last few days,” said Attorney General Schmitt. “However, those who seek to use these protests to destroy property and commit acts of violence, including those who come to Missouri from out of state, will be held accountable for their actions by federal and state authorities. Those acts of destruction and violence will not be tolerated.”
 
Tim Garrison, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, stands with the right to peacefully protest. But, he noted that those who choose to take part in acts of violence will be prosecuted.

“Those who cross the line from lawful protestors to criminal agitators will be arrested and prosecuted,” Garrison said. “We are working alongside our state and local partners to maintain order and public safety.”

Similarly, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri Jeff Jensen said the state will continue to serve Missourians by prosecuting those who violate laws by committing acts of violence.

Additionally, Jensen said prosecution will come for people who cross state lines to participate in violent protests.

“If you travel across state lines to participate in a riot or threaten the safety of our community and its property, you will be prosecuted,” Jensen said.

By Megan Smaltz | KRCG TV