A St. Louis County grand jury has decided not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, who shot and killed Michael Brown.
Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson shot the unarmed Brown at least six times on August 9th, killing the young man after a confrontation between the two on Canfield Drive in Ferguson, Missouri. Since then, a St. Louis County grand jury had been convened to determine if any charges should be brought up against the officer. Per McCulloch’s spokesman, Ed Magee, the grand jury had four different charges to look at in regards to Wilson: first-degree murder, second-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter.
Since Brown’s death at the hands of Wilson, Ferguson and the St. Louis area has experienced protests and demonstrations. Ferguson made national headlines in the immediate aftermath of Brown’s killing due to the militarized police presence and the images of protesters being tear gassed and confronted by officers in riot gear. While protests have been generally calmer since those early weeks, we have still seen instances of protesters being confronted by police in tactical gear and being arrested for ‘failure to disperse.’ Due to the tense relationship between law enforcement and protesters, activists composed 18 rules of engagement for local police to follow. While law enforcement didn’t agree to all the rules, they did state that they would follow a number of them.
Prior to the grand jury announcement, tension was extremely high in the St. Louis area. In an almost unprecedented move, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon preemptively announced a state of emergency in the Ferguson area in relation to the grand jury decision, allowing Nixon to mobilize the National Guard. Prior to this announcement, Nixon held a press conference revealing a contingency plan regarding security in and around Ferguson. The governor stated that 1,000 local police would be made available as well as the National Guard.
Protests since August have been almost entirely peaceful if spirited. Thousands of people made their way to St. Louis in October to take part in Ferguson October, a planned weekend event that featured marches, rallies and other actions. With knowledge that the grand jury decision was imminent, national and international media have descended upon St. Louis the past few days. At the same time, a number of activists and protesters from out-of-town have also made their way into the area. One pair of activists actually ran all the way from Atlanta to St. Louis to be in town for the decision.
It remains to be seen just how the area will react to this decision.