The new head of the Congressional Black Caucus issued a thinly-veiled threat that mob violence will break out if a St. Louis County grand jury fails to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown.
“I would certainly hope that the grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri will find that there is sufficient evidence to conclude that a crime probably was committed, to lay out that crime, and to let a jury of 12 in Missouri decide the guilt or innocence of the police officer,” North Carolina Rep. G.K. Butterfield told WUNC on Wednesday.
Butterfield was elected on Wednesday to lead the 45-member caucus. The St. Louis County grand jury has convened regularly since August, and is expected to meet for the last time on Friday. A decision on whether or not to charge Wilson with a crime could be announced the same day.
“But if they turn their back on justice,” Butterfield continued, “I’m fearful that there will be push back from those who are concerned about it. And I’m one of those who’s concerned about it.”
“There will be push back. We will be asking questions,” said Butterfield.
The 67-year-old Butterfield, who has been in Congress since 2004 and was a judge prior to that, did not specify what kind of push back he expects if Wilson is cleared.
“But I would hope that any demonstrations that would take place in Ferguson, Missouri would be peaceful and non-violent,” Butterfield continued. “And I would hope that law enforcement will not inflame citizens who might want to express their First Amendment rights.”
Gov. Jay Nixon has called in the Missouri National Guard to assist local law enforcement in the event of any violent unrest. Numerous business owners in Ferguson have boarded up their shops in anticipation of the grand jury’s decision to not charge the 28-year-old Wilson.