Waiting for a Decision in Ferguson

Ferguson, Mo., was in a tense and frenzied holding pattern Friday, with some activists planning to move protests into St. Louis' more affluent communities.

Editor’s Note: February 2, 2016
After uncovering misattributed quotes in stories written by Juan Thompson, a former staff reporter, The Intercept conducted a review of his work. We were unable to confirm the quote in this piece attributed to Grady Brown.


SAINT LOUIS, Mo. — Ferguson, Mo., and the broader St. Louis region were in a tense and frenzied holding pattern Friday, as the country waited to hear whether Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson would be charged in the August shooting death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown.

The grand jury tasked with hearing the case is expected to disclose its decision imminently. The panel, which comprises nine white jurors and three black jurors, has been meeting since mid-August. In order for an indictment to be returned, nine of the jurors have to agree.

St. Louis has been swamped by outsiders, reporters, and rumors, one of which is that Wilson is negotiating his resignation from the Ferguson police department. Last night, for the second night in a row, Ferguson police arrested several protestors for blocking traffic; officers used pepper spray on one of the demonstrators. The growing unease can be attributed to the fact that very few expect charges to be filed. A representative of the St. Louis Police Officer’s Association who claimed to have met with Wilson this week told the Associated Press that “it’s fair to say that neither [Wilson] nor his defense team expect an indictment.”

If that is the case, some activists are intent on expanding the zone of last summer’s unrest beyond the streets of Ferguson in into St. Louis’ more affluent communities. The Organization for Black Struggle, one of the many protest groups, plans to demonstrate in Clayton, a wealthy, largely white municipality that serves as the county seat. “We are going to send a message to St. Louis and the country by shutting down Clayton,” said Grady Brown, a representative of the group. STL Forward, an organization seeking to bridge the racial divides in the region, released a video of Michael Brown Sr. asking that protestors “continue to lift their voices with us and let’s work together to heal and create lasting change.”

Friday afternoon, the St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office announced that it is preparing for a press conference to reveal the grand jury’s decision, whenever that may be. And St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley and St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay held a joint press conference to preview their responses to any potential unrest. “If something does happen, then we are prepared to handle it,” Slay said. The pair also announced that a coalition of protest groups and government officials had agreed to a set of informal rules for how police would deal with protestors. In anticipation of the announcement, the school district in nearby Jennings has cancelled classes next week, while the FBI dispatched 100 agents to St. Louis.

A spokesperson for the St. Louis County police said, “We are trying to avoid the violence from last summer.”

Photo: Scott Olson/Getty

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