Washington, D.C. – According to documents obtained by the CNN, the Missouri National Guard used highly militarized words such as “enemy forces” and “adversaries” to refer to protesters, while it prepared to deploy to help quell riots in Ferguson, Missouri that raged sporadically last year.
Many community leaders and civil rights activists accused the guard that came to Ferguson to support law enforcement officers, of using excessive force and inflaming an already tense situation in protests that flared sporadically from August through the end of the year.
Contained in internal mission briefings obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, the National Guard’s language is intensifying the concerns of some who objected to the police officers’ actions in putting down riots. The riots broke out after the shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown by city police officer Darren Wilson on August 9. Wilson was not indicted in the case due to the ruling of a grand jury.
An alderman in St. Louis, Antonio French, said: “It’s disturbing when you have what amounts to American soldiers viewing American citizens somehow as the enemy.” Also according to the documents obtained by the CNN, the Missouri National Guard was concerned about perceptions of its deployment. The documents detail that superiors later told troops to stop using heavily militarized language to describe protesters.
The communications also show that the Guard attempted to ensure that their presence didn’t further dial up tensions by calibrating the timing of their deployment in November, in anticipation of the St. Louis County grand jury’s decision on whether to indict Wilson. However, several community leaders voiced concern that they were not deployed quickly enough.