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Amid Breonna Taylor protests, Parson activates National Guard ‘as precautionary measure’


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Gov. Mike Parson activated the Missouri National Guard “as a precautionary measure” as protests have broken out across the country after a grand jury declined to indict Louisville police officers on charges directly related to the death of Breonna Taylor. 

Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency health care worker, was fatally shot by Louisville Metro Police officers while they executed a warrant on her Kentucky apartment during the middle of the night in March. On Wednesday, a grand jury indicted one former officer, who was fired from the police department in June, for firing shots into Taylor’s neighbors’ apartment. 

Taylor’s death set off a massive social media campaign and nationwide demonstrations calling for police accountability and justice for the young Black woman. Some protests have turned violent or destructive; in Louisville Wednesday, two police officers were shot. 

Parson signed an executive order Thursday declaring a state of emergency and mobilizing the Missouri National Guard “as a precautionary measure” to handle civil unrest. The Republican chief executive also said the Missouri Highway Patrol was at the ready to assist as needed. 

“We are saddened by recent acts of violence that have occurred in some cities across the nation,” Parson said. “We fully support the right of citizens to peacefully protest and are committed to protecting that right. At this time, we are taking a proactive approach in the event that assistance is needed to support local law enforcement in protecting Missouri and its people.” 

“Peaceful protests are welcomed, however this lawlessness is not,” Parson said in a social media post in response to the shooting of the Louisville police officers.

In Kansas City, five people were arrested for trespassing during demonstrations Wednesday, KSHB-TV reported. Two others were arrested in St. Louis as some people attempted to set fires during the demonstrations, according to KMOV-TV

“The grand jury’s decision to only indict one officer for charges unrelated to the death of Breonna Taylor isn’t justice for her family and loved ones. It shows the lack of accountability created by our justice system,” Clem Smith, acting chair of the Missouri Democratic Party, said. “Not until we hold everyone to the same standard of accountability can we truly feel like progress has been made. We stand with those calling for criminal justice reform, calling for police reform.”

“Across the country, we cannot stop pursuing justice for every single person to be able to sleep safely in their bed at night, to jog through their neighborhood, to go grab a drink and Skittles at a convenience store. We must stand up and say: Black Lives Matter.” 

More protests, including in Missouri, are scheduled for Thursday. 

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