St. Louis County declares a State of Emergency in Ferguson

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CLAYTON, MO (KPLR) – St. Louis County Executive, Steve Stenger, cited what he called "criminal unrest" as his reason for declaring a State of Emergency in Ferguson and the surrounding area, Monday.

The declaration was drew a few irate responses.

St. Louis County is now in charge of emergency management and policing for the area.

Stenger said St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar would direct the effort.

Neither Belmar nor Stenger would talk about specific strategies of implementation.

Sunday night’s events could not happen again, Stenger said.

There was a feeling that one year after Mike Brown’s death, the State of Emergency Declaration, missed the point.

“The state of emergency is this genocide, not a few people out in the streets,” said demonstrator Tay Johnson.

Johnson, of Atlanta, was in Ferguson to promote #RiseUpOctober: an October 24th march in New York against what he felt was unjust treatment of African-Americans by police.

“This is a state of emergency…this genocide.  That’s what they need to call a state of emergency on.  This has to stop,” Johnson said.

Ferguson residents and business owners insisted Sunday night’s violence was no way to make the point:  a hail of gunfire disrupting what had largely been a peaceful observance of the anniversary of Brown’s death.

“Everyone has come together in our community to rebuild Ferguson,” Stenger said.  “As I watched the events unfold, I cannot express to you how troubled I was.”

“It’s hard.  This is hard,” lamented Dellena Jones, owner of the 911 Salon on West Florissant Avenue.

Her business was damaged Sunday night after being ravaged during last year’s demonstrations.

Business owners who empathized with the demonstrator’s cause had had it with criminals piggy-backing on the protests.

“This is not effective.  This does not have a positive effect for anybody.  This actually creates more struggle,” Jones said.

“You look at the owner of the Ferguson Burger Bar,” Stenger said, recalling how a couple had struggled to rebuild their business after last year’s unrest.

“To think that as hard as they worked to rebuild their business after everything that happened and what I think about all of the other business owners along West Florissant who did the same and are struggling now, it’s troubling.  I can’t sit by and *not* declare a state of emergency,” he said.  “The Ferguson (PD) has 16 officers on a 24 hour shift.  Our department has 1,000 officers total.  So we have a great deal of manpower and womanpower that we can employ along with our other assets.”

The county, state, and federal government had invested millions into rebuilding Ferguson, Stenger said.  A dramatic makeover for the West Florissant business district was in the works.   It must be protected, he said.