The Missouri national guard will be on standby to deal with any protests after a grand jury announces its decision on whether to charge the police officer who shot dead an unarmed teenager, Michael Brown, the state governor announced on Tuesday.
The governor, Jay Nixon, said the national guard had been involved in extensive police planning for any eventuality after the announcement of a decision by jurors considering the potential prosecution of officer Darren Wilson, who killed Brown on 9 August.
National Guard forces “will continue to be available when we determine it is necessary to support local law enforcement”, Nixon told a press conference. “I’m prepared to make that order,” he said. “At the time operationally that it is necessary to move forward, we will.”
Authorities around Ferguson, a northern suburb of St Louis, are braced for further unrest amid widespread expectations that Wilson, 28, will not be indicted for the shooting, which took place in sharply contested circumstances after he stopped Brown and a friend for jaywalking.
Intense protests in the days after Brown’s death met a militarised police response that drew sharp criticism from regional leaders and civil rights organisations. Nixon on Tuesday declined to comment on whether police were again prepared to use teargas and rubber bullets.
Criticising a minority of activists for blighting earlier demonstrations with “senseless acts of violence and destruction”, Nixon on Tuesday said “that ugliness was not representative of Missouri, and that cannot be repeated” and warned “violence will not be tolerated” during any future protests. “The world is watching,” he said. “Peace must prevail”.