Missouri and the country at large are waiting anxiously for a grand jury decision that will decide the fate of Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown.
Leaks reported by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and The New York Times suggest that Wilson will not be prosecuted. Meanwhile, so much of the lead up to the announcement has become about community leaders and organizers in Ferguson, who have reportedly already asked officials for clues or advanced warnings of what the verdict will be. They’re playing what football coaches call a “prevent defense” to try and prevent any possible riots or displays of rowdiness among protesters.
Meanwhile, Brown’s family appeared before the United Nations Committee Against Torture in Geneva, Switzerland. In an advanced copy of their presentation, the family discussed the racial tension of the case and what it represents.
“Given the history of racial tensions in the city of Ferguson, this particularly disrespectful treatment of Brown’s body and callous disregard for the trauma it could cause Ferguson residents repeated and reinforced the longstanding degrading treatment of Black racial minorities by an overwhelmingly white police force,” the speech reads.
In the document, Brown’s family also calls for the arrest of Wilson, the Ferguson Police Department to be placed under “federal receivership to hold it accountable for systematically targeting and harassing residents of color in a predatory and degrading manner,” an apology from Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon for his “intimidation and excessive force” used against protesters and the amnesty of protesters who were arrested while demonstrating against Brown’s killing.
Law enforcement officials in Missouri know that the stakes are high. In an interview with CBS News, Missouri State Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson said he’s already met with students, gang members and ministers about what could happen after the grand jury’s decision. “There’s a lot of fear,” he told CBS News. “A lot of people are afraid of what could happen. In the end, this is gonna be the community we have to live in.”
But even outside of the Midwest, people are ready and willing to demonstrate once a verdict is reached. A group of organizers known as #DCFerguson will hold a rally at 7 p.m. at Mt. Vernon Square in Washington, D.C., the day after the grand jury verdict, no matter what day it is, if Wilson isn’t indicted. Eugene Puryear of the ANSWER Coalition said the decision could be one of the most important moments in the story of police relations with African-Americans.
“The murder of Michael Brown and the situation in Ferguson can and should be a turning point, where we finally come to terms with the root causes of these issues and address social deprivation and oppression and the police brutality that comes with it,” said Puryear in a statement.
Now, the nation waits.