Police departments around the country are bracing for the possibility of widespread protests, as 12 Missouri citizens decide the fate of a white police officer charged with shooting an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson.
The St. Louis grand jury is charged with determining whether charges will be brought against Officer Darren Wilson in the August 9 shooting death of Michael Brown. Information leaks associated with the grand jury session have also added to the tension. As reported by the Inqusitr, the dispatch recording between Officer Wilson and Ferguson police dispatch was recently released, and the autopsy report was also recently leaked to the press.
There have been conflicting eyewitness reports as to exactly what occurred that day in the streets of Ferguson, Missouri. The region is already on pins and needles following what many felt was an unnecessary show of force by local police during protests in the immediate aftermath of the shooting
Yahoo! News reports that police departments from Boston to Los Angeles are preparing for the possibility of national protests and even rioting, should the grand jury decide not to file charges against Officer Wilson.
Los Angeles police commander Andrew Smith verified the department is keeping a close eye on the situation.
"Naturally, we always pay attention. We saw what happened when there were protests over there and how oftentimes protests spill from one part of the country to another."
While the original protests in August and September devolved into frightening scenes of violence, many are hoping to ensure any new protests remain as peaceful as possible. As reported by STL Today, a group of organizers from Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment and the Don't Shoot Coalition, among others, met to provide training for over 600 potential protesters.
Organizer Michael McPherson stressed a desire to eschew violence to meet the group's goals.
"We as a community of people, we aren't going to use violent power. We're going to use people power, to change things."
The group has worked to determine likely protest hot spots in Ferguson as well as helping protesters identify supplies to bring, such as extra clothes, snacks, and water. They have also set up a police-free area at St. John's Episcopal Church in Ferguson, where protestors can make use of a "safe zone."
The grand jury's decision is expected sometime before the end of the month. Meanwhile, the country watches, waits, and prepares.
[Photo courtesy of Al Jazeera]