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Ferguson is a city holding its breath as it waits for the other shoe to drop.
The protesters have mostly moved on from West Florissant Avenue, where in August nightly battles with a police force that looked as if it were dressed for war were televised across the US. But the beauty salon, barbecue joint and Chinese restaurant are still boarded up, even if large spray painted letters – “We’re Open!” – make it clear they are still in business.
They are likely to stay that way as their owners anxiously await the next milestone of the Michael Brown tragedy.
Many people in Ferguson expect that the grand jury considering whether to indict a police officer, Darren Wilson, for killing Brown, an 18-year-old unarmed African American, will let him go. But no one is quite sure how that will be received on the streets.
“I think there’ll be a bunch of trouble if something right don’t happen,” said René Jones, who lives in an apartment opposite the makeshift memorial to Brown, of tributes, candles, signs and stuffed toys, that has grown up on the spot in the street where he died. “There’s nothing that’s going to convince people around here that it’s not the system protecting its own if Wilson walks free.”
Across the road, Norma Webb was leaning over a balcony.
“The justice system isn’t doing its part,” she said. “They need to indict Darren Wilson. That’s what’s got everyone enraged. They are ducking and diving. We want justice. Even though he’s a cop he should be treated the same as everybody else.”
The man next to her, who give his name as Big Woody, interjected.
“It’s going to get real ugly if they don’t indict him,” he said.
“I pray to god this is settled in a human manner,” she said.
Among the city’s white residents, the mood is no less concerned.
“I know there are citizens worried about it,” said Brian Fletcher, a former mayor. “At least we will know when the verdict is coming. We’ll be prepared.”
The problem is not only that many people in Ferguson, whether they have been out on the streets demonstrating or not, believe Wilson shot Brown because he was black. They say that if the officer it is not indicted it will be because the authorities have covered for him.
Chris McGreal writing in Divided Ferguson awaits grand jury decision on Michael Brown killing for The Guardian.
Thousands of people from around the nation have traveled here under the banner #FergusonOctober to protest the shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown by white police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri. And while local citizens and politicians, visiting demonstrators and even media personnel have been subject to police confrontation since the earliest days of action, the latest round of demonstrations around the city have resulted in dozens of Continue Reading »