As a grand jury deliberates in secret over whether or not to charge Darren Wilson, the Ferguson police officer who shot unarmed black teenager Michael Brown on August 9, Missouri police are preparing for the upcoming verdict by studying Constitutional law as well as stocking up on riot gear, The Associated Press is reporting.
Since the August 9 Mike Brown shooting, protesters and police have clashed in demonstrations that have sometimes turned violent, but have largely been peaceful, according to ABC News. The overwhelming police response — which has included heavily-armed police in riot gear pointing military-grade weapons at protesters, firing tear gas at peaceful protesters, and curfews — started a national debate about race relations and about the militarization of the country’s police forces.
The police response to the Mike Brown protests also included multiple instances of human rights abuses and violations of Constitutional law, according to a scathing report from Amnesty International released today. Those findings include designated free-speech areas; firing rubber bullets into crowds of peaceful protesters; and suppressing the media (including the police destroying an Al Jazeera crew’s equipment).
The Mike Brown jury is meeting in secret, but nevertheless, some information has been leaked to the media, including the revelations of his autopsy reports, which appeared that he had marijuana in his system and that he was shot in the hand at close range, according to this Inquisitr report.
While the source of the grand jury leaks remains unknown, Washington University law professor Peter Joy believes they believes they may be calculated moves intended to prepare either side — Mike Brown supporters or Darren Wilson supporters — for a verdict they don’t want.
“It appears that it may be calculated to soften the blow if there is no indictment… [But] it’s conceivable that if the leaks are from law enforcement that perhaps there may be an indictment and this is calculated to garner public sympathy for officer Wilson.”
Missouri State Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson is hopeful that the grand jury announcement, regardless of what it is, will be met with a peaceful response.
“I know there’s a lot of anxiety, there’s a lot of fear, anticipation… [But] I have a lot of hope.”
However, St. Louis attorney and civil rights activist Eric Vickers seems to be expecting the worst.
“The moment I learn that there is, in fact, a non-indictment, then there’s going to be an organized protest.”
As of this post, there is no timetable for when the Mike Brown grand jury will release its verdict to the public.