Mon | Jan 21, 2019

Ferguson prepares for grand jury decision

Published:Monday | November 24, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Police stand guard during a demonstration outside the Ferguson Police Department, yesterday, in Ferguson, Missouri. Ferguson and the St Louis region are on edge in anticipation of the announcement by a grand jury whether to criminally charge officer Darren Wilson in the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown. - AP

Crews erected barricades around the building where a grand jury has been considering whether to indict the Ferguson police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown, even as a grand jury decision seemed unlikely this past weekend.

Tension has been mounting in Ferguson and elsewhere in the St Louis area in recent days, with many speculating that the grand jury's decision would be announced yesterday. That seemed increasingly unlikely by late Saturday, although there was a noticeable uptick in the preparations being made.

Downtown STL Inc, a St Louis civic group that promotes downtown businesses, told members in an email on Saturday that the grand jury will reconvene today to continue deliberating whether charges are warranted against Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the August 9 fatal shooting of Brown.

The email did not explain how the group knew the information, and a spokeswoman declined comment. Ed Magee, a spokesman for St Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch, didn't respond to several messages Saturday.

Awaiting Word

The Brown family's attorney, Ben Crump, said on Saturday that he hadn't heard a decision had been reached and that prosecutors had promised to tell him when that happened.

Wilson is white and Brown, who was unarmed, was black. There have been many demonstrations in the months since Brown's death, including some that were violent. Police arrested three protesters on Friday night - the third straight night of unrest in Ferguson.

On Saturday, authorities set up barricades around the Buzz Westfall Justice Center in Clayton, which is where the grand jury has been meeting.

Barricades also went up in the shopping centre parking lot on West Florissant Avenue in Ferguson, which was where police set up a makeshift command centre in the immediate aftermath of Brown's death.

Several dozen protesters marched in Ferguson on Saturday evening, praying, playing music and chanting slogans including, "No justice, no peace" and "Mike Brown means we've got to fight back". Cars stopped and drivers honked, slowing traffic.

Brown's mother, Lesley McSpadden, spoke to protesters through a bullhorn and urged people to be careful.

"Don't agitate them, and don't let them agitate y'all," she said. "I don't want nobody getting hurt. We're all willing to do something, but I don't want nobody getting hurt."