The St. Louis County grand jury decision about whether to charge Officer Darren Wilson, the policeman involved in the August shooting death of Michael Brown, could be announced as early as Saturday, officials said. Meanwhile, residents of Ferguson, the St. Louis County municipality where Brown was shot, have expressed fear and uncertainty ahead of the grand jury announcement.
Some residents are concerned that violent clashes could take place if Wilson is not indicted, and daily meetings are being held to prepare for the decision, CBS News reported.
Protests and violent clashes erupted in Ferguson after Brown, an unarmed, black 18-year-old, was shot and killed on Aug. 9, sparking a national conversation about police and race. Throughout the days and nights of violent protests that followed Brown's death, many criticized the use of force by police and numerous arrests. In response to the protests, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon ordered a midnight curfew and later deployed the National Guard.
In preparation for the grand jury decision, police have stockpiled riot gear, tear gas and body armor and school officials are asking for any announcement to be made when children are at home to reduce any risk, USA Today reported. Demonstrators are also preparing for the decision and will set up safe houses for the protests. The Don't Shoot Coalition has also asked St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch for a 36-hour advance notice of the announcement. McCulloch's spokesperson, Edward Magee, said the grand jury will hand up its decision on or after Saturday.
The most recent protests and demonstrations have been peaceful, but the grand jury decision has been highly anticipated in Ferguson and demonstrations are expected to be held regardless of the news. If Wilson is indicted, demonstrators would take to the streets to celebrate the news; if Wilson is not indicted, there could be violent protests.
Missouri State Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson is working with city officials, religious leaders, gang members and protesters to develop a plan to maintain peace and order in Ferguson. “There’s a lot of fear. A lot of people are afraid of what could happen. In the end, this is gonna be the community we have to live in,” Johnson said to CBS News.