At least two protesters were arrested Thursday night in Ferguson, Missouri, where residents are anxiously awaiting a grand jury ruling on whether Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson will face charges for fatally shooting unarmed teenager Michael Brown earlier this year. The case of Wilson, a white police officer, and Brown, a black 18 year old, incited riots in August as residents fought over race relations and police violence. Similar tension was building this week as the grand jury decision approaches.
Demonstrators withstood freezing temperatures to picket in the roads Thursday, shouting at drivers and blocking traffic. They chanted "Whose streets? Our streets!" and taunted officers with riot shields, Reuters reported.
When police tried to move the crowd, small fights broke out. A man and woman were reportedly handcuffed at the scene, but police did not release any official number of arrests, the Wall Street Journal reported. Five people were arrested Wednesday in similar protests. "They thought we'd go away when it got cold, but look," activist Cathy Daniels told the Journal. "This is just the start."
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency on Monday. He activated the National Guard to handle any potential protests in reaction to the grand jury decision. The jury has until January to return a ruling on whether to indict Wilson for Brown's death, but lawyers predicted the announcement would come by the end of November. If Wilson is charged, he will be fired from the Ferguson Police Department. If not, he could return to duty.
Demonstrators told Reuters they would be protesting one way or another, out of dissatisfaction with the jury. But the Wednesday and Thursday disobedience was in response to the state of emergency, Yvette Harris told the Journal. She said it implied the government thought protesters would be out of control. "It’s making everybody mad, putting out this state of emergency," she said.