Missouri Gov. Mike Parson announced Tuesday he will deploy more than 1,000 additional members of the National Guard to assist local law enforcement statewide after four police officers were shot in St. Louis on Monday.
After a day of protests in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, the city experienced an outbreak of violence and looting. Parson said this will not be tolerated.
“Law and order has to take place in this country if we’re going to survive,” Parson said at his regular press briefing on Tuesday. “We will commit to the local law enforcement. I will give them all the resources I can possibly give them from the governor of the state of Missouri … because I’m not going to put up with total chaos in this state.”
A spokesperson for the National Guard declined to say how many members would be in St. Louis, citing security concerns.
Parson said all Missourians needed to take accountability for the destruction. He said citizens need to start “standing up and protecting one another.” He was clear to differentiate protesters and the individuals ensuing violence, calling them “criminals” and “thugs.”
“They need to be held accountable,” Parson said of whoever is responsible for the death of a retired police captain killed by looters in St. Louis. “Hopefully they get hunted down … because it has nothing to do with protesting, it has nothing to do with George Floyd. It has to do with criminal behavior.”
Sandy Karsten, director of the Department of Public Safety, pointed out several protests that took place across the state without any trouble. She said law enforcement is there to provide a safe space for citizens to exercise their right to free speech and peaceful demonstration. But the protesters' efforts are being overshadowed by criminals.
Karsten said one Missouri state trooper in St. Louis was shot at in his vehicle. The bullet went through his car and hit the riot helmet he was wearing. He was not injured.
Though Parson said he is willing to use every resource he has as governor to stop the violence, his long-term solutions for addressing systemic racism are not as aggressive.
Parson made an unannounced trip to St. Louis on Tuesday to meet with lawmakers, law enforcement and community leaders. He said he is committed to meeting with youth activists and the Urban League in the future for “a roundtable discussion to talk about policy change.” But he said he did not discuss specifics on reform during his meetings on Tuesday.
“We agreed to sit down at a table to have a meeting to come up with a plan on how we’re going to address things,” he said. “Right now, the one thing we all agree on, you gotta stop the violence. That’s the main thing we need to be talking about right now.”