Gov. Mike Parson said Tuesday he would address violence during protests in whatever way he could — announcing that he is calling up “over 1,000 troops” of the Missouri National Guard.
Parson’s announcement came after some protests around Missouri became violent over the death of George Floyd during a police arrest in Minneapolis. Floyd’s death has prompted protests against police brutality nationwide.
In St. Louis Monday night, four St. Louis police officers were shot, and a retired St. Louis police captain was shot by looters at a pawn shop.
In response, Parson said he would strengthen Missouri’s National Guard and the Missouri Highway Patrol to assist local law enforcement.
He had declared a state of emergency because of civil unrest on Saturday and said then that he was activating the National Guard to help deal with violence that accompanied some protests.
“I’ve called out the National Guard, and we’re going to strengthen up the National Guard,” Parson said. “We’re not going to have police officers; we’re not going to have the citizens of Missouri being shot in our streets in this state. We’re going to put an end to it.”
Demonstrations were also held in both Columbia and Jefferson City Monday night. Besides two individuals who were injured during separate incidents and damage to the Walgreens on Providence and Broadway in Columbia, those protests remained mostly peaceful.
Sandy Karsten, the director of the Missouri Department of Public Safety, said she was at the protests in Jefferson City. While there, she noted demonstrators were vocal yet peaceful.
“We agree that free speech should be practiced and allowed,” said Karsten. “We agree that peaceful and safe demonstrations should occur, and we agree that we must highlight the calling of injustices in our nation.”
Echoing Karsten, Parson emphasized people have the right to peacefully protest. He also condemned those who committed violence during the protests.
“No, they’re not protesters. They’re criminals and they’re thugs, and they need to be held accountable,” said Parson.
Earlier Tuesday, Parson went to St. Louis to talk to Missourians to find solutions to the civil unrest. This included clergy leaders, legislators, law enforcement and community activists. He committed to holding future discussions with activist groups and politicians about policy change and ways the state can move forward.