Afro American News

A Glance At Ferguson: Then, Now And The Future

ST. LOUIS (AP) — The weeks of anxious waiting and hours of deliberating ended Monday, but the grand jury’s decision not to indict a white Ferguson, Missouri, police officer in the fatal shooting of black 18-year-old Michael Brown will likely reverberate throughout the community and nation for days to come.

THE LATEST: Some businesses were little more than charred husks along a stretch of West Florissant Avenue where protests turned violent overnight in the north St. Louis suburb. Other businesses had items strewn about and numerous windows broken Tuesday morning. Authorities said 14 people had protest-related injuries. Sixty-one people were arrested in Ferguson, many for burglary and trespassing, and protests in the Shaw neighborhood of St. Louis led to 21 arrests. THE BEGINNING: Officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Brown, who was unarmed, shortly after noon Aug. 9 in the middle of the street after a scuffle. Brown’s body lay there for hours as police investigated and an angry crowd of onlookers gathered. Several days of tense protests in the predominantly black community followed, prompting Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon to call in the National Guard. St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch decided to present the case to a grand jury.

THE ANNOUNCEMENT: Made up of nine white people and three black people, the grand jury met 25 days over three months, and heard more than 70 hours of testimony from 60 witnesses. McCulloch held a prime-time news conference Monday to reveal the decision, and described inconsistent witness accounts. He never mentioned that Brown was unarmed when he was killed.

THE PUBLIC RESPONSE: Thousands waited in the streets of Ferguson and in other major U.S. cities on Monday, and responded with shouts of anger. In Ferguson, some began throwing objects at police, who had been told to handle the situation as if it were a baseball game. But protesters soon began to smash windows and set fire to businesses and cars, and authorities lobbed tear gas to disperse the crowd. When daylight broke, about a dozen businesses had been severely damaged or destroyed.

THE DOCUMENTS: More than 1,000 pages of grand jury documents were released Monday, including Wilson’s full testimony in which he described the scuffle in his patrol car and recognizing the cigars in Brown’s hand as possibly being connected to a report of a convenience store robbery. Wilson also said that Brown approached him: “And when he gets about … 8 to 10 feet away … all I see is his head and that’s what I shot.”

THE FINAL SAY? The U.S. Justice Department has its own investigation into possible civil rights violations that could result in federal charges for Wilson, but investigators would need to satisfy a rigorous standard of proof. The department also has launched a broad probe into the Ferguson Police Department.

WHAT’S NEXT: Michael Brown’s family, who called for peaceful protests after the grand jury decision was announced, is scheduled to speak at Tuesday morning. St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson has scheduled at 5 p.m. Votive Mass for Peace and Justice.

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A Glance At Ferguson: Then, Now And The Future