Saint Louis is waiting on pins and needles for the grand jury verdict to come in on the Michael Brown killing. Brown, an 18 year-old black man who was shot on August 9th, by Darren Wilson, a white Ferguson police officer. Protests, both peaceful and violent ensued. About two weeks ago, when we returned to Saint Louis from LA and while Anne and I were loitering at the airport, we were waiting for Joanie to pick us up, a security guard came by and gave us the third degree. After he was satisfied, he then asked us, “Do you think that there will be riots?” He meant after the grand jury verdict came back with no indictments. I told him that nothing was going to happen until after the election, which is now more than a week past.
One of my Facebook friends put out a post recommending preparing for the consequences of a grand jury verdict. It sounded like disaster preparedness, what with a call for having cash and bottled water around, like something we should do in the event of an earthquake or nuclear war. I pray that all of this talk is merely hyperbole and whatever decision that the grand jury returns does not lead to violence.
A new neighbor is a Saint Louis County cop. We knew this when he started parking his marked police car in front of our house. He is a tall, young, friendly, Asian-American man and having him as a neighbor is an asset. At our block party last month, he explained that he had been working a lot of overtime because of Ferguson. At the party, he also said that there are plans for a major call up of police officers come the grand jury verdict.
Preparations extend across the river. A co-worker who is also a reservist told me that the Illinois National Guard has evacuated all heavy weapons (tanks, rocket launchers, etc.) from their East Saint Louis armory, as a precaution for the expected grand jury verdict. This story seemed farfetched to me, but its source is impeccable. Meanwhile, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon (D) announced yesterday, a unified law-enforcement command that will be ready to respond when the grand jury verdict is made public. This command will be composed of local police, state police and the Missouri National Guard. Nixon is also in regular consultation with President Obama (D) about Ferguson.
Foreshadowing the expected Michael Brown grand jury verdict the Saint Louis County prosecutor, Robert McCulloch (D), announced this week that the killing in July of another black man by another white policeman was justified and that no charges will be brought. This is exactly the ruling that the black community feared would occur, when McCulloch seated the Michael Brown grand jury. Last weekend anxiety was running so high that McCulloch felt compelled to tamp down the “rank speculation”. The grand jury verdict is expected in mid to late November. Have a Happy Thanksgiving!