Anxiety in Ferguson Increases as Residents Await Decision by Grand Jury

Demonstrators listen to speakers during a rally on the campus of Saint Louis University on Oct. 13. (Photo: Scott Olson, Getty Images)
Demonstrators listen to speakers during a rally on the campus of Saint Louis University on Oct. 13.
(Photo: Scott Olson, Getty Images)

No matter what a grand jury decides in the case of a white Ferguson police officer who shot and killed an unarmed black teenager, people will take to the streets, whether in anger or celebration.

While the St. Louis suburb holds its breath waiting to learn whether a grand jury will indict officer Darren Wilson, 28, in the shooting death of Michael Brown, 18, people from every facet of life are preparing for a population to convulse. Police, city officials, schools, businesses and protesters meet daily in an effort to avert a return to the chaos that immediately followed the Aug. 9 shooting when protesters clashed, sometimes violently, with police.

“It’s a high-stress, low-trust environment,” said Johnetta Elzie, 25, a protester who has demanded Wilson’s arrest. “We are living day to day waiting on this announcement.”

The grand jury convened Aug. 20 to hear evidence in the case. At issue is how Brown died. Police say Brown struggled with Wilson inside his police car, then reached for Wilson’s weapon. Brown’s family and some witnesses say Wilson killed Brown as he raised his hands in surrender.

The shooting sparked riots, protests, vandalism and clashes with police, who faced criticism for a heavy-handed approach that included military-grade weapons and equipment.

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Source: USA Today | Yamiche Alcindor

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