Published: 14:51 EST, 16 November 2014 | Updated: 17 November 2014
- Tensions rising ahead of anticipated grand jury decision in Missouri this week
- Revealed that President Obama met with activists and encouraged them to continue their peaceful protests
Protesters are gathering in support of Michael Brown in and around St. Louis as they nervously await what many believe will be an inevitable no-indictment vote in the coming days by a grand jury for the officer who shot him.
Demonstrators held a ‘die-in’ Sunday to mark 100 days since the unarmed Ferguson, Missouri teen was killed. They also convened to, among other things, prepare for the imminent court decision by issuing ‘rules of engagement’ for police there for crowd control, the New York Times reports.
Many of the high-profile protesters met with President Obama and discussed the matter November 5, including Reverend Al Sharpton. It was a meeting the Gateway Pundit notes was not included on the president’s daily schedule.
Sharpton told the Times that Obama urged the group to ‘stay on course.’
Preparing for the inevitable: A demonstrator marches through the streets during a protest marking the 100th day since the shooting death of Michael Brown in St. Louis, Missouri on November 16
A crowd of a couple hundred demonstrators, angry about the fatal August shooting took to the streets of St. Louis on Sunday, briefly blocking a major intersection in protest.
Dozens of people lay down in the street outside of a downtown theater hosting a film festival, pretending to have been shot by other demonstrators playing the role of police officers in an action intended to evoke the memory of 18-year-old Brown, who died 100 days ago in front of his home in the suburb of Ferguson.
On course: Rev. Al Sharpton revealed the President secretly met with Ferguson protestors
Marchers went on to briefly block a major intersection near Washington University and the event ended without any of the violence that was seen in Ferguson following Brown’s shooting death by police officer Darren Wilson.
‘This is a mature movement. It is a different movement that it was in August. Then it just had anger, justifiable anger,’ said DeRay McKesson, a 29-year-old protest leader, as wet snow fell on the city. ‘Now we are organized. We are strategizing. And we are going to bring our message to the power structure.’
A grand jury, sitting in the county seat of Clayton, Missouri, is currently deliberating whether to bring criminal charges against Wilson. Many residents and officials in the region fear another wave of rioting similar to the one in August that led to the burning out of multiple businesses if the grand jury decides not to charge Wilson.
‘We are bracing for that possibility. That is what many people are expecting. The entire community is going to be upset,’ if Wilson is not indicted, said Jose Chavez, 46, a leader of the local Latinos en Axion group.
There have been conflicting witness accounts of the shooting, with some saying that Brown had his hands up in surrender while others have described it as a struggle between Brown and Wilson.
Ferguson and its surroundings have been fairly quiet the last few days as both police and protesters plan their response to the grand jury’s report.
‘We’ve decided not to wait for that decision. We’ve decided to get started,’ said Rockit Ali, a 22-year-old organizer of Sunday’s demonstration, who marched in a Spider-Man mask.
While Sunday’s event had been planned as a nonviolent action, Ali said that violence could not be ruled out if the grand jury finds Wilson without fault.
Ferguson shopkeepers make preparations for expected riots
Preparation: Demonstrators lay on the ground in a mock death protest of the shooting of Brown. The area around St. Louis, Missouri, is preparing for the grand jury decision in the shooting death of Brown
From Boston to Los Angeles, police departments are bracing for large demonstrations when the grand jury decides.
The St. Louis County grand jury, which has been meeting since August 20, is expected to decide this month whether Officer Darren Wilson is charged with a crime for killing 18-year-old Michael Brown after ordering him and a friend to stop walking in the street on August 9.
For some cities, a decision in the racially charged case will, inevitably, reignite long-simmering debates over local police relations with minority communities.
‘It’s definitely on our radar,’ said Lt. Michael McCarthy, police spokesman in Boston, where police leaders met privately Wednesday to discuss preparations. ‘Common sense tells you the timeline is getting close. We’re just trying to prepare in case something does step off, so we are ready to go with it.’
In Los Angeles, rocked by riots in 1992 after the acquittal of police officers in the videotaped beating of Rodney King, police officials say they’ve been in touch with their counterparts in Missouri, where Gov. Jay Nixon and St. Louis-area law enforcement held a news conference this week on their own preparations.
RESIDENTS OF TOWN NEAR FERGUSON WARNED: BE READY
A St. Louis County town that neighbors Ferguson, Missouri, is warning residents to prepare for potential unrest that may follow the grand jury announcement in the Michael Brown case.
Berkeley officials passed out flyers this week urging its 9,000 residents to be prepared just as they would in the event of a major storm, with plenty of food, water and medicine on hand in case they’re unable to leave home for several days.
The flyer says Lambert Airport will be protected by the National Guard, but airport spokesman Jeff Lea says that’s wrong. Lea says the airport will continue to be protected by its own security force.
Brown was killed Aug. 9 by Ferguson Officer Darren Wilson. A grand jury is expected to decide this month whether to charge Wilson.
A suburban St. Louis school district says schools will get early notice once the Ferguson grand jury reaches a decision.
If it’s a weekday, Tobias says districts will learn three hours before media, so students can be sent home before potential protests. District spokesman Jack Wang says districts won’t be told what the decision is.
The grand jury is expected to decide this month whether to charge white Ferguson Officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an 18-year-old who was black and unarmed.
A prosecutor’s office spokesman didn’t return messages seeking comment.
Indict America: Protesters made some startling statements as they awaited the grand jury decision
In Las Vegas, police joined pastors and other community leaders this week to call for restraint at a rally tentatively planned northwest of the casino strip when a decision comes.
In Boston, a group called Black Lives Matter, which has chapters in other major cities, is organizing a rally in front of the police district office in the Roxbury neighborhood the day after an indictment decision.
In Albuquerque, New Mexico, police are expecting demonstrations after having dealt with a string of angry protests following a March police shooting of a homeless camper and more than 40 police shootings since 2010.
Philadelphia police spokesman Lt. John Stanford said he anticipated his city will see demonstrations, regardless of what the grand jury returns.
But big-city police departments stressed they’re well-equipped to handle crowds. Many saw large but mostly peaceful demonstrations following the 2013 not-guilty verdict in the slaying of Florida teen Trayvon Martin by neighborhood watch coordinator George Zimmerman. In New York, hundreds of protesters marched from Union Square north to Times Square, where a sit-in caused gridlock.
The New York Police Department, the largest in the nation, is ‘trained to move swiftly and handle events as they come up,’ spokesman Stephen Davis said.
In Boston, McCarthy said the city’s 2,200 sworn police officers have dealt with the range of public actions, from sports fans spontaneously streaming into the streets following championship victories to protest movements like Occupy.
‘The good thing is that our relationships here with the community are much better than they are around the world,’ he said. ‘People look to us as a model. Boston is not Ferguson.’
Cities nationwide are preparing for what may come in the wake of the imminent grand jury decision
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