Amid leaks, speculation and political posturing, the city of Ferguson, Missouri, is once again bracing itself for a unpleasant possibilities.
The grand jury is expected to decide soon whether or not to indict police officer Darren Wilson for the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown on Aug. 9. As that decision nears, residents, activists and police are concerned over the prospect of more violence, no matter which way it goes. (RELATED: Police Officer: Trust Me, Ferguson Changed Everything)
Violence, riots and general unrest have become the norm in Ferguson since Brown’s death. Businesses have been looted and burned multiple times, police have been criticized for aggressive behavior and excessive violence and hundreds have been arrested. All sides fear more of the same when the grand jury decision is announced. (RELATED: Autopsy Analysis: Michael Brown Was Shot In Hand While Reaching For Gun)
In preparation for that day, police have been outfitted with body cameras to record any interactions or confrontations with protesters and, as The Associated Press reports, “police have been brushing up on constitutional rights and stocking up on riot gear.”
Stocking up on riot gear has civil libertarians concerned, but the police have their concerns as well. From CNN:
Many protesters are preparing for the possibility that the grand jury may decline to indict Wilson. If that’s the case, one protester told CNN this week, “Excuse my French, all hell is going to break loose.”
The grand jury, whose proceedings are supposed to be secret, has had a series of leaks of late that give the impression that they may be leaning toward not indicting Wilson. These leaks have upset protesters and Attorney General Eric Holder, who called them “inappropriate and troubling.” But until a decision is announced, no one will know if those leaks were real, selective or what that decision will be.
Until that time, citizens of Ferguson — civilians and police alike — will have to wait and worry.
Jon Belmar, the St. Louis County Chief of Police, told the AP, “We’ve also learned we have to have a dialogue with our demonstrators, so they know what to expect from us, and we know what to expect from them.”
Time will tell.