Schools in the St. Louis metropolitan area are closing their doors in anticipation of potential riots that could follow the announcement of results from a grand jury investigation in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown.
Controversy has swelled for months around the shooting of the unarmed Brown, who was black, by Darren Wilson, a white police officer in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson. A grand jury is expected to announce soon whether Wilson will face charges for the shooting. There is widespread concern that if Wilson is cleared, it could lead to riots in the city. Gov. Jay Nixon has already announced a state of emergency in order to cope with any flare-ups.
In order to mitigate the risk of students being caught up in any disorder, the Jennings School District, which includes parts of Ferguson, has preemptively canceled class for next Monday and Tuesday.
Superintendent Tiffany Anderson told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that she is acting cautiously because most students in the district walk to school, and would be especially exposed to danger should any violent disorder break out (the district does not offer school bus services).
Anderson also noted that on Thursday, masked individuals had been handing out fliers to schoolchildren encouraging them to be disruptive and “think of police as pigs.”
Jennings is only one of four school districts that service Ferguson, and the other three currently plan to stay open. However, that could rapidly change. According to the Dispatch, St. Louis police are encouraging those districts districts to close down for two days as soon as an indictment announcement is made, partly to reduce street traffic in the event of unrest.
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