Crowd grows as Ferguson grand jury announcement nears

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Michael Brown

FERGUSON, Missouri (CNN) — While protesters chanted late Monday for an indictment in the case of Michael Brown, officials called for calm as the world awaits word of the grand jury’s decision.

“No matter what is announced, people will be emotional. I want people to think with their heads and not with emotion,” said St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley. “This is not the time to turn on each other. It is a time to turn to each other.”

Protesters were gathering outside the police department in Ferguson. Darren Wilson, a white police officer with the department, shot and killed Brown, a black teenager, on August 9.

The grand jury’s decision on whether to indict Wilson will be announced at about 8 p.m. (9 p.m. ET) Monday, according to the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney of St. Louis County.

“While none of us knows what that will be, our shared hope and expectation is that regardless of the decision, people on all sides show tolerance, mutual respect and restraint,” Gov. Jay Nixon told reporters.

As he spoke, protesters outside the police department chanted: “Indict that cop!” and “No justice, no peace!”

Brown’s death ignited a national debate on race and law enforcement. Nowhere was the tension more evident than in the predominantly black town of Ferguson, which has a mostly white police department and town government.

Supporters of Brown’s family back witness accounts that Wilson fired while Brown, 18, had his hands up in surrender. Wilson’s supporters say that Brown was the aggressor and had tried to take Wilson’s gun while he was in his vehicle and that the officer fired in self-defense.

The town couldn’t even agree what happened during weeks of street demonstrations. Protesters argued that authorities were trying to stifle protests; officials said they were acting to keep violence under control.

Brown’s family is asking for four and a half minutes of silence before any protests begin, family representative Janie Jones said.

“We are not here to be violent. We are here in memory of our son. We are here for protection of all children. We are here to support justice and equality for all people. We lift our voices to ensure black and brown men, women and children can live in this country without being devalued because of the color of our skin,” the family said in a statement.

The time period is a reference to the approximately four and a half hours Brown’s body remained in the street after he was shot.

An investigation by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch found that county detectives were 30 miles away when they were called, and the first detective arrived about 90 minutes after the shooting. When a hearse later arrived, an angry crowd had gathered and it was too dangerous to get the body, authorities said. Ultimately, a SWAT team came.

‘We’re just ready for it to be over with’

The city has been on edge in anticipation of a decision. Law enforcement sources said the grand jury has been sent home.

“We’re prepared for any decision that comes down,” Missouri Public Safety Director Daniel Isom told CNN.

More businesses boarded up, but streets were quiet in the afternoon as residents waited.

Byron Conley, protesting outside city police department, told CNN, “We’re just ready for it to be over with. Let’s get on with our lives.”

Rick Canamore stood with his sign — “RIP Mike Brown” — outside the police department.

“I’m already angry because it has taken so long,” he said. “If Mike Brown had shot Darren Wilson, it would have been over a long time ago. But Darren Wilson is walking around free. He hasn’t apologized to Mike Brown’s family. He has not apologized to the community.”

Though the basic facts of the case — that Brown was unarmed when Wilson shot him — are not in question, the facts of the fatal moment are hotly disputed. Authorities have said Wilson stopped Brown because Brown and a friend were blocking traffic, by walking down the middle of the street.

Protests in Ferguson might be hampered by winter weather, with temperatures expected to drop into the upper 20s Monday night.

The Ferguson-Florissant School District has canceled classes and activities for Tuesday as a result of the expected grand jury announcement. The district’s calendar shows the schools will be closed from Wednesday through Friday for Thanksgiving.

Unrest could flare in other cities, too, in the wake of the grand jury decision, Rashid Abdul-Salaam, a security specialist and former police officer, told CNN.

“Departments would be remiss if they didn’t prepare,” he said.

Unanimous indictment decision isn’t needed

Unlike a jury in a criminal case, which convicts someone if jurors are convinced of guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt,” a grand jury decides whether there is “probable cause” to charge someone with a crime, based on testimony and evidence presented.

In Missouri, grand jurors don’t have to be unanimous to indict, as long as nine of the 12 agree on a charge.

The grand jury can issue an indictment on any of these four charges: First-degree murder, second-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter. It also can add a charge of armed criminal action, authorities said.

But the grand jury, which received the Missouri statutes for self-defense and the police use of deadly force, may choose not to indict Wilson.

The grand jury meets in secrecy and first met in August. While the jury members are not identified, authorities have released some information about them.

The group of 12 includes nine white people (six men and three women) and three black people (two women and one man), court officials said.

The county grand jury was randomly selected from an approved pool and has been seated since May, according to Paul Fox, director of judicial administration for the St. Louis County Circuit Court.

Many grand juries hear numerous cases. These juries last for a specified period of time rather than the duration of a specific case.

Wilson himself testified before the grand jury, CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin said, an unusual move because he gave up his Fifth Amendment rights in doing so.

25 comments

  • Semper Fidelis, USMC

    The officer was assaulted with a deadly force assault, which includes strikes to the head. The officer responded with deadly force, as appropriate and authorized by law. Officer Wilson was justified in his actions and I would have done the same thing.

    The black community in this country and showing they are (mostly, but not all) animalistic and just like their brethren in Africa waving around machetes and killing each other.

    Black America should realize that acting like savages will gain them nothing moving forward from now. Mexicans are swamping this country and Hispanics already outnumber them. They are now the third race and their political power is diminishing. It’s a fact. Look at the LA. Look at other major areas where blacks are being replaced by Hispanics. If they were smart, they act like civilized people and secure their place in a modern America. But no: They want revenge where none is due. They burn each others homes and businesses down. They assault and kill innocent people. They protest where there is nothing to be gained but the knowledge they terrorized innocent people.

    The black community is ruining itself. Black preachers are the worst offenders of all. They worship God about as much as Muslims do. They surround themselves with worldly idols and go against the Word of God routinely in their personal extravagance. They encourage rioters, while out of the other side of their mouths appeal for peace when they know and hope no peace will result.

    Black culture is tolerant of lies, theft, murder, and the subjugation of women. They are as bad as ISIS. In fact, Muslim terrorists have picked up on this strain of black thought and are seeking to involve themselves in the protests in Ferguson.

    I am locked and loaded and ready and I will not hesitate if my life, my family’s safety, or my property are threatened.

    • Devo

      Sounds like you are blaming an entire race for blacks problems… 150 years isn’t enough time to build a moral culture and society in the black community? Or is the welfare program holding it back? Huh, which is it?

    • Amber

      White Devil? Really? Ugh, that is it. I’m moving to Canada. Get me out of this place. America is becoming the biggest joke in the world because of people like you.

    • Port Authority

      For crying out loud, stop with the slavery excuse already. Your people are truly a worthless use to society and quite frankly the whites, Asians, Hispanics and native Americans have no use for any of you. Wish our forefathers would of just harvested their own cotton and left you all in Africa

  • dianne

    Deja you are one twisted individual..I am white and never owned a slave…and I am a second generation immigrant…so my family never owned a slave so get over your pity party and put.your big girl pants on..black people are only in slavery to the government program.they feel entitled too..get with the program of self reliance..self respect..and independence from ebt cards.free cell phone.and other government..hand outs..that is the true slave master of the African american

  • Devo

    Why do they still show a picture of a 15 year old who looks like he just got finished watching the Cosby show? When in fact the thug is twice that size, raps lyrics that say “gonna shoot your tongue out” and brutally attacked a police officer? Stupid liberal media….

    • GOP Union Member

      Because Fox 6 and CNN (where they get there bias National news) are race baiting liberals and most of their base is too stupid to see it.

  • Melissa

    Be prepared! The animal’s time is right around the corner! Time to loot some Xmas presents! Those f’in POS protesters will protest either way because it gives them the freedom to riot and loot. Whoever decided to let the verdict out at 8PM was NOT thinking! Taking bets on how many get shot tonight.

  • ACHELIUS ASTRALUPITHICUS AFRIKANUS

    This will be a just verdict. Any riots or looting will be only caused by the American blacks looking for a freebee., that be their culture. Welfare queens,,baby daddys…etc etc. etc. He will be found not negligent for putting down a felon high on drugs. It doesn’t matter if he got shot once or 300 times. Time to quit the PC and start enforcing the law in Ferguson.. The blacks have no shame when it comes to blaming everyone else except themselves for their stupidity. Time to enforce the law of the land. Mess with a cop you bound to get capped… you stupid liberal leftys.

  • Lone ranger

    Wait for it, wait for it here it is just a little longer almost there almost wait for it just about there now just a little longer here it comes all the anticipation!! Just a little longer almost here LOL ! The media loves it!

  • .

    It too bad adults can’t see the world as children do. Today one of my students asked me why so many people don’t like another and why there’s so much bad in the world, I didn’t know what to say … Its sad because children don’t look at people for the color of their skin or judge, they see the adults in their life act and learn from that, your not born with hate and being racist and its a cycle that unfortunately will never end.

  • ACHILEUS ASTRALUPITHICUS AFRIKANUS

    39.8 percent of blacks get welfare.. Less than whites. Whites get 39 percent. if you figure the black to white ratio…most blacks get welfare.. thanks.

  • nicki7@hotmail.com

    Why interrupt primetime shows, especially during season finales? This news could have scrolled across bottom of the screen or waited until a regularly scheduled news broadcast!

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