Guard Role in Ferguson Limited

Washington Report

(August 19, 2014) Before the state's governor called up the National Guard in an attempt to settle unrest in Ferguson, Mo., civil rights leader and Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., said the Guard should be called on to protect protesters.

"Federalize the Missouri National Guard to protect people as they protest ... ." Lewis said Aug. 14 on Andrea Mitchell Reports.

Troops started arriving in Ferguson Monday afternoon, but not in a federal capacity. Guardsmen were called up by Gov. Jay Nixon.

Nixon is aiming to alleviate tensions between police and citizens, which came to the forefront after unarmed teenager Michael Brown was shot and killed by a Ferguson police officer Aug. 9. The unrest has led to looting, fires, arrests and criticism of local police who donned military gear and raised weapons when faced with predominantly peaceful protesters.

According to news reports, Nixon said the Guard is stepping into a limited role supporting law enforcement officials. The troops' main job is to secure the police command center.

In remarks to reporters Monday, President Barack Obama said he spoke with Nixon and shared his thoughts that the Guard be used in a "limited and appropriate way."

"This is not something that we initiated at the federal level," he said.

The Guard mission may be state initiated, but the town will be getting an additional federal presence soon. Eric Holder, the attorney general of the United States, will visit Ferguson Wednesday. Sens. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and Roy Blunt, R-Mo., plan to join him.