With the decision from the grand jury deciding the fate of officer Darren Wilson — the Ferguson, Missouri police officer who shot unarmed black teenager Michael Brown on August 9 — expected soon, activists in nearby Clayton plan to shut down that city if Wilson is not indicted, Fox News is reporting.
Like Ferguson, Clayton is a suburb of Saint Louis, a short jaunt north on I-170. But unlike Ferguson, Clayton’s population of about 50,000 is wealthy and mostly white, according to City-Data.com. Bordering Saint Louis, Clayton is also a business center, and it’s the businesses that Michael McPherson, co-chair of the Don’t Shoot Coalition, hopes will feel the pain.
McPherson and his group hope hundreds, if not thousands, of protesters will show up in Clayton, on the first business day after the grand jury decision is handed down, to meet, talk to people, and engage in civil disobedience, such as shutting down roads into and out of the city. But violence, he says, is out of the question.
“We want people to know these meeting are about non-violence direct action. Some of it will be people talking to people, expressing themselves. There’s nothing we’re doing to try to create violence. We don’t want to diminish tension without there being change.”
According to Business 2 Community, the Clayton protesters had originally planned to take their protests to the city’s courtrooms and disrupt trials, but doing so would carry much steeper legal consequences than shutting down a road.
As Saint Louis and the surrounding area prepare for the upcoming grand jury decision, supporters of officer Darren Wilson are also putting the word out that they, too, will be involved in the protests. The Ku Klux Klan has been distributing a flier in and around Ferguson, according to this Inquisitr report, threatening “lethal force” against the “terrorists masquerading as protesters.”
Others are calling for a more measured response. Missouri governor Jay Nixon has asked protesters to make their voices heard while resisting violence, looting, and rioting. One thing he has not done is call on police to show restraint in dealing with the protesters. After protests erupted in Ferguson following the Mike Brown shooting, police conducted a militarized response complete with armored vehicles, tear gas, rubber bullets, and media blackouts. Fox News reports that Attorney General Eric Holder has been working with law enforcement agencies to make sure that the law enforcement response, should protests erupt, would be “appropriate.”
As of this post, Clayton police have not publicly commented on the proposed shut-down of their city.