Missouri Governor Jay Nixon on Tuesday is expected to detail law enforcement preparations ahead of protests that could erupt once a grand jury decides whether to indict a white police officer in the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson.
Tensions have been building for weeks as the St. Louis suburb awaits an announcement of the grand jury’s decision on the shooting death of Michael Brown, 18, by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9. There is widespread expectation the grand jury will not indict Wilson.
The shooting of Brown sparked weeks of demonstrations and some groups have threatened extensive protests if the officer is not charged with a crime.
Rumors of an impending announcement have flooded social media for days, prompting St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch on Monday to reiterate his expectation that the grand jury would not make a decision until mid-to-late November.
McCulloch, whose prosecutors have been presenting evidence to the grand jury, said his office would advise the public when a determination has been made.
St. Louis area activists at midday on Tuesday plan to conduct training for legal observation, non-violent protest techniques and street first aid treatment in anticipation of demonstrations that could follow if the grand jury does not vote charges against Wilson.
The National Lawyers Guild and American Civil Liberties Union are assisting in the training of protesters, who have sought to negotiate terms of engagement with law enforcement for demonstrations.
Shortly after Wilson killed Brown, there was looting and vandalism of some Ferguson businesses, as well as clashes with police. The protests over Brown’s death have since been mostly peaceful as the grand jury decision is awaited.
Some businesses have boarded up windows and made plans for how to protect themselves and their property if protests ignite into violence and destruction.
The Ferguson-Florissant School District, which had to delay the start of the school year due to protests in August, has reviewed contingency plans in case there are serious protests and schools have to dismiss students early for safety reasons.
Jana Shortt, director of communications for the school district, said parents have been asked to update their contact information and to make sure they have authorized people to pick up their children, if they are let out early.
Originally posted on Reuters.