Michael Brown shooting: Preparations in high gear in Ferguson as grand jury prepares to make decision over the shooting of black teenager

One local school district has already declared that there will be no classes in the first part of next week

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The Independent US

Preparations are in high gear in Ferguson, Missouri, this evening for a fresh burst of civil unrest that officials fear may come when a behind-closed-doors grand jury reveals whether or not it will recommend criminal charges against the police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown in early August.

One local school district has already declared that there will be no classes in the first part of next week lest students and parents become caught up in street protests and possible violence.  Meanwhile the US Attorney General, Eric Holder, appealed to police in Ferguson to exercise restraint if protests break out.

The prosecutor’s office in St Louis County said for the first time that they were laying plans for a press conference to announce the outcome of the grand jury’s deliberations.  However, officials said they did not have either a date or a location.

The community of Ferguson, the scene of the 9 August, was palpably on edge as residents and business owners tried to divine when the grand jury’s decision would be made public.  It was reported that their last session weighing the evidence in the shooting of Mr Brown, who was 18, by Office Darren Wilson had taken place earlier on Friday.  That seemed to suggest that the announcement was imminent.

While the authorities apparently had no plan to clarify the question of timing they had earlier indicated that police agencies and local business groups would be give a private 48-hour notice period to get ready for whatever backlash may occur.

The scale of the demonstrations could easily rival that of those that broke out in the days and weeks immediately after the shooting, particularly, as many have predicted, the grand jury decides that no criminal charges should be filed against the officer.

 

In a video, Mr Holder, said that the Justice Department “encourages law enforcement officials, in every jurisdiction, to work with the communities they serve to minimize needless confrontation”.

There was wide criticism of the police response in August when commanders in Ferguson deployed both military-style heavy vehicles and lines of police officers in elaborate riot gear to confront and try to contain the protesters, usually on a wide, commercial avenue in Ferguson close to where Mr Brown was shot.  Over a succession of chaotic nights, scores of arrests were made and tear gas was fired.

The grand jury has for several weeks been weighing the evidence in the case and hearing from witness and also from Officer Wilson himself.  While some witness have insisted that Mr Brown did nothing to provoke the shooting and indeed had raised his hands in surrender when the shots were fired, supporters of Officer Wilson have asserted that he felt endangered by thy young man and acted in self-defence.

Among those calling on all sides to ensure calm was the father of the young man. “Hurting others or destroying property is not the answer," Michael Brown Sr.said in his own video. "No matter what the grand jury decides, I don't want my son's death to be in vain. I want it to lead to incredible change, positive change, change that makes the St. Louis region better for everyone."

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