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Nixon Says State Trying To Balance Speech, Safety In Ferguson Response

Elle Moxley

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon says the state's response to an upcoming grand jury decision in the shooting death of Ferguson teenager Michael Brown will focus on ensuring safety while protecting civil liberties.

"We want to make sure that people who want to speak, want to say things, march and protest, have the right to do so in a protected way," Nixon said. "Safety-wise, we want to make sure people are able to stay safe."

Nixon, who earlier this week declared a state of emergency in advance of the grand jury's decision, said police have received more than 5,000 hours of constitutional rights training since Brown was killed Aug. 9. Nixon says he plans to spend a significant amount of time in the St. Louis area in the coming days.

The governor was in Kansas City to recognize Lincoln Preparatory Academy for receiving National Blue Ribbon School distinction. When he entered the auditorium to speak, several students held up their hands in solidarity with Brown, who some witnesses say had surrendered when he was shot by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson.

"There's a lot of energy out there, and quite frankly, as we've seen on the St. Louis side, a lot of young folks who feel most energetic about this," Nixon replied when asked about the students' actions.

He added that it wasn't his place to comment on whether it was appropriate, given school rules. But Nixon pointed to the commission he named this month to explore what happened in Ferguson, which includes young people who've been involved in the Brown protests.

"In an odd way, when young people get engaged and interested, it's good for the system," Nixon said.

Elle Moxley covered education for KCUR.
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