CNN has reportedly obtained documents revealing that the Missouri National Guard referred to demonstrators in Ferguson, Mo. as "adversaries" and "enemy forces" when they were enlisted to assist with riots in the St. Louis suburb last year. The riots followed the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown at the hands of former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson.
According to CNN, the information was secured via a request made through the Freedom of Information Act:
We are deliberately constraining mobilization timelines to the last couple days to minimize backlash from calling up the NG early, Col. David Boyle, Army chief of staff at the Missouri National Guard, informed his officers in a Nov. 18 email. We have coordinated for lower profile, less confrontation likely mission sets to emphasize support roles and minimize public militarization perception.
Additionally, some in the National Guard seemed worried the language in the mission briefings could be problematic.
Two days after the deployment, an email from Boyle warned of potential consequences from using language that could be construed as potentially inflammatory. Two days after that, notification was sent to commanding officers stating that all reference of 'enemy' were changed to state 'criminal elements'.
Considering this development, the National Guard's concern over their choice of language is understandable. It simply strengthens the perception that law enforcement officials did not view Ferguson protesters as human beings, and, therefore, proceeded to treat them as such. Still, the National Guard sent an email to CNN claiming that the highly-militarized language shouldn't be scrutinized:
In an email to CNN, he said the documents used in the Ferguson mission briefings were a generic military planning format utilized in a wide range of military missions, so the term 'enemy forces' would be better understood as 'potential threats. Often in Guard operations, threats would include inclement weather, heat, failing levees, etc.