ABSENCE OF STATE MILITIA AS CITY BURNED UNDER INVESTIGATION
by Sharon Rondeau
The Missouri Sunshine law requires that public servants respond to requests “as soon as possible,” but at the maximum, within three business days, even if it is to state that more time is required to gather the responsive documents.
After receiving an email acknowledgement of our request the second day after it was made, Nixon’s office sent 20 pages of documentation through standard mail, none of which contained records of phone calls or emails exchanged between Nixon or his surrogates and the White House regarding the situation in Ferguson, MO involving a grand jury decision on whether or not to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown on August 9.
Following the shooting, Nixon appeared sympathetic to demonstrators who claimed that racial profiling by the police was a problem in St. Louis County, where Ferguson is located. Prior to the grand jury’s conclusion of its work, Nixon ordered a special “Ferguson Commission” to study issues of “racial and ethnic relations,” “family and community stability,” educational opportunities, relations between law enforcers and residents, and access to health care and child care. The Commission’s website states that “Openness and transparency will be cornerstones of the Commission’s work.”
On November 26, White House Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz stated that White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett had been in touch with Nixon prior to the November 24 announcement of St. Louis county prosecutor Robert McCullough that the grand jury would not indict Wilson.
Breitbart News also reported that “Jarrett and Attorney General Eric Holder also spoke with civil rights leaders the first night of the protests, continuing their close coordination as the grand jury decision approached.”
White House Media Affairs did not respond to The Post & Email’s query as to communication between the White House and Nixon.
On December 29, we were assured by a staffer in Nixon’s office that we were provided all responsive records relating to our Sunshine Law request.
Following the grand jury announcement, rioters looted, set fires to police cars, destroyed businesses and fired gunshots in Ferguson without the presence of the National Guard, which had been put on alert weeks before by Nixon in anticipation of the grand jury announcement. “They were kept away,” Kinder told McCallum of the National Guard’s absence on the evening of November 24. “I cannot imagine any other reason why the governor who mobilized the National Guard would not have them in there to stop this before it started,” Kinder added.
The National Guard arrived the following morning after extensive damage had occurred. Kinder also questioned why McCullough made his announcement at 8:00 p.m. CST rather than “6:00 a.m.” and said that Nixon’s office had not responded to his questions.
Nixon later told Channel 2’s Chris Hayes:
…the plan was that the law enforcement officers who have been trained would be out on the front lines. You didn`t want to have a Kent State situation. You certainly didn`t want to have a situation where Guardsmen who had only been there a few hours, who had not been used to the very kinetic atmosphere of people throwing things, screaming things at the very front tip of that spear. That was the plan. I think it has prevented loss of life.
Kinder is a Republican who has twice sought the governorship but withdrawn, possibly because of incidents which occurred while he was a state senator. Nixon is a Democrat, and the two offices do not work together.
On November 25, Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder had claimed in a Fox News interview with Martha McCallum that he suspected that Nixon had coordinated with the White House a plan to refrain from deploying the Missouri National Guard in Ferguson on the evening of November 24 following McCullough’s press conference announcing the grand jury’s decision. Kinder had said that he was seeking any emails exchanged between the White House and Nixon’s office about the situation in Ferguson.
On January 1, The Post & Email contacted Kinder’s office via email to inquire if it possessed emails and/or phone call records exchanged between Nixon and White House personnel. We received no response, and a second request was then faxed on Friday, January 16.
January 19 was not a business day, but we received no reply by Friday, which would exceeded the three-business-day requirement mandated by law.
On Friday, January 23, Kinder was a guest on the Jamie Allman Show (h/t The Gateway Pundit) and revealed that an investigation has been launched following the disclosure through an open records request to the Associated Press of an email discussing a meeting among public officials in which the termination of Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson was a topic.
In a January 9, 2015 article by the AP referenced by Gateway Pundit, it was reported that “Interviews with several elected officials and newly released records show some of Missouri’s top leaders tried to pressure Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson to resign after the fatal shooting of Michael Brown.”
The speaker of the Missouri House of Representatives and U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill were in attendance at such a meeting, which McCaskill’s office stated encompassed “a variety of issues.” As reported by the AP, some discussed the prospect of Wilson’s resignation before the grand jury’s decision was announced, although Wilson did not resign until several days afterward.
The email reported by the AP reflects that the National Guard’s presence “in front of Ferguson police headquarters” was requested by “St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar” and was reportedly declined “per the governor.”
During Friday’s interview, Kinder referenced Nixon’s claim that his response “plan” had proven successful by preventing “loss of life” but countered it by stating that “the people of Missouri and the people of Ferguson and St. Louis County have a right to know the facts here” in regard to the efforts to fire Jackson.
Kinder identified attendees at the meeting referenced in the email revealed by AP as members of the “state Democratic Party.”
Allman said he received an email from Nixon’s office which admitted that Nixon had “ordered [the National Guard ] to stand down the Ferguson Police Department” but not the remainder of the city.
Kinder responded to Allman that “…Somebody ordered them out of Ferguson altogether. Why was Ferguson allowed to burn? Someone at some level of government wanted this to happen.”
Kinder decried that firefighters were “promised protection” which they did not receive on November 24 as they were “putting life and limb on the line.” He referenced Nixon’s interview with Hayes in which he said, “We actually had a good outcome because no one died.”
Kinder told Allman that Belmar’s email shows that “Gov. Nixon ordered the [National] Guard to stay out.”
According to Kinder, a committee with “subpoena power” has been formed to investigate why the National Guard was not deployed in Ferguson as millions of dollars in damage were wreaked against local businesses and property. Kinder urged all public officials not to “destroy emails” and has expressed a desire to know the number of meetings which took place without Republicans’ and the public’s knowledge.
Allman asked if businesses affected by the violence had “recourse,” to which Kinder responded that the owners can approach their elected officials.