Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon on Tuesday announced the names of the 16 members of the newly created Ferguson Commission, a group of community leaders that will study the “underlying issues” raised by recent protests in the St. Louis suburb and formulate policy recommendations in 10 months time.
Nixon said the committee was created to address the “social and economic conditions” highlighted by the protests that followed the Aug. 9 shooting death of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson.
The announcement comes at a tense moment for Ferguson, which is awaiting a grand jury verdict on whether to indict Darren Wilson, the white police officer who shot Brown.
To help deal with any possible fallout from the decision, which could come any day, Nixon on Monday called up the National Guard and declared a state of emergency. The measures are intended to help police “keep peace,” not “clash with protesters,” Nixon said.
More than 300 residents in the St. Louis area applied to be on the commission, which was sworn in Tuesday at the Missouri History Museum in St. Louis.
Those chosen include local business owners, pastors, teachers, police officers and lawyers. It will be co-chaired by the Rev. Starsky Wilson, president and CEO of the Deaconess Foundation, and Rich McClure, chairman of the St. Louis Regional Board of Teach for America.
Nixon, who said the group would be "independent and citizen-led," also announced $100,000 of public funding for the commission’s efforts.
They are tasked with conducting a wide-ranging, in-depth study on law enforcement, race relations, poverty and other issues that came into focus with the Ferguson protests.