Missouri GOP leader Ed Martin blamed the riots in Ferguson on Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon, saying that his lack of leadership resulted in "a lot of terrible things to happen there."
"The failure in this, when they write the history of it, lands directly in Jay Nixon’s lap," the state’s Republican Party chairman, told The Hill
on Monday. "For about 4-5 days there was no strong leadership when [it] was clear there was a need for it, when people were sort of flailing."
Martin said that Nixon should have been "asserting control and influence" in the troubled St. Louis suburb in the first 24 hours when the unrest started after Michael Brown, 18, was shot while unarmed by a Ferguson police officer, Darren Wilson.
Despite days of rioting, lootings and burnings, Nixon only deployed the Missouri National Guard after a series of violent clashes between police and protesters, during which police used tear gas to control the crowds.
Martin said Nixon’s slow response was typical for the governor, who the GOP boss claims is "well-known as an absentee governor," according to The Hill. "The lack of leadership allowed a lot of terrible things to happen and has really put the law enforcement in a terrible bind."
Although Martin criticized the use of military-grade weapons and tear gas by police, on the whole he commended their actions.
"It was so unclear how to handle the situation, there were mistakes for sure. But I think they acted in good faith," he told The Hill. "I think law enforcement is doing the best they can at assessing the issues. It’s not been perfect, but they’re trying to honor the issues."
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