Ferguson police are preparing for what could be riots after an announcement whether police officer Darren Wilson will face charges for fatally shooting 18-year-old Michael Brown.
Brown’s death in August set off weeks of protests and demonstrations in the suburban St. Louis city, some of them growing contentious as demonstrators clashed with well-armed police in riot gear and armored vehicles.
Many of the protestors want Darren Wilson to face murder charges, but legal experts believe that leaked information from the secret grand jury proceedings indicate that he will not be charged. Forensic evidence reportedly backs Wilson’s account that Michael Brown was attacking, not that Brown had his hands raised in the air as some witnesses suggested.
The Washington Post also reported that “a half-dozen unnamed black witnesses” testified to the grand jury supporting Wilson’s account of the incident.
It is unclear when a decision could take place, but Ferguson police are already preparing for the possibility of riots.
“I know there’s a lot of anxiety, there’s a lot of fear, anticipation” about that announcement, said Missouri State Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson.
“The moment I learn that there is, in fact, a non-indictment, then there’s going to be an organized protest,” said Eric Vickers, a black St. Louis attorney and civil rights activist.
There are still intermittent clashes between protesters and police in Ferguson. CNN reported that on Tuesday there was a small group of 50 peaceful protesters, but the next night protesters hurled rocks, water bottles, and a metal rod at police officers. They also tore down barricades outside a Ferguson police department station.
Police have reportedly been preparing for the possibility of riots, and some believe that the grand jury leaks have come from law enforcement sources with the intention of readying people for the news that Darren Wilson will not be indicted.
Police are not the only ones predicting riots in Ferguson. One protester told CNN this week that if Wilson is not indicted for the shooting death of Michael Brown, “all hell is going to break loose.”