FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) — Activists, authorities and the family of Michael Brown called for calm Friday as a grand jury drew closer to an announcement in the Ferguson police shooting. But a spokesman for St. Louis County’s top prosecutor said the panel is still in session. There was no indication when the grand jury would render a decision on whether to indict Ferguson officer Darren Wilson in the death of Brown, who was 18 and unarmed when he was killed. Ed Magee, a spokesman for county Prosecutor Bob McCulloch, said Friday in an email to reporters that the grand jury is still reviewing the case. The time, date…
FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) — Activists, authorities and the family of Michael Brown called for calm Friday as a grand jury drew closer to an announcement in the Ferguson police shooting. But a spokesman for St. Louis County’s top prosecutor said the panel is still in session.
There was no indication when the grand jury would render a decision on whether to indict Ferguson officer Darren Wilson in the death of Brown, who was 18 and unarmed when he was killed. Ed Magee, a spokesman for county Prosecutor Bob McCulloch, said Friday in an email to reporters that the grand jury is still reviewing the case. The time, date and place for a news conference announcing the decision has not been decided, he wrote.
Wilson, 28, reportedly told the grand jury he feared for his life on Aug. 9 as Brown, who was 6-foot-4 and nearly 300 pounds, came at him. Witnesses said Brown was trying to surrender and had his hands up.
The shooting of a young black man by a white police officer led to protests, some of which turned violent. Demonstrations have continued for more than three months, though the number of protesters has dwindled and violence has become uncommon.
Still, there were signs of rising tension.
Protesters were arrested Thursday outside Ferguson police headquarters for the second night in a row after around 40 demonstrators blocked South Florissant Road. One of the three people arrested pushed an officer and was hit with pepper spray, according to St. Louis County Police spokesman Brian Schellman.
Calls for peace and restraint emanated from several quarters — business owners, civil rights leaders and outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder. The most prominent appeals came from Brown’s father, Michael Brown Sr.
“Hurting others or destroying property is not the answer,” Brown said in the video released by the group STL Forward. “No matter what the grand jury decides, I don’t want my son’s death to be in vain. I want it to lead to incredible change, positive change, change that makes the St. Louis region better for everyone.”
Holder issued a general reminder to police to prepare for demonstrations and to “minimize needless confrontation.”
The video message did not explicitly mention Ferguson, but it did reference demonstrations over the past few months that have “sought to bring attention to real and significant underlying issues involving police practices.”
“I know from firsthand experience that demonstrations like these have the potential to spark a sustained and positive national dialogue, to provide momentum to a necessary conversation and to bring about critical reform,” Holder said in the video.
“But history has also shown us that the most successful and enduring movements for change are those that adhere to nonaggression and nonviolence,” he added.
Eddie Hassaun of the civil rights group Justice Disciples urged protesters not to be confrontational and for police to follow suit.
“We’re looking for the action on the other side to be equally as committed to peace in the streets and peace for the demonstrators and peace for those who want to protest,” Hassaun said.
City, county and state leaders on Friday announced a “rules of engagement” agreement between police and roughly 50 protest groups. The pact is aimed at preventing violence on both sides.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson said the focus should be on ending economic disparities, not preparing for violence that may not happen.
Jackson recalled the historic March on Washington in 1963, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech. Washington was placed on lockdown, and the military was mobilized, “and of course, the march went off without a hitch,” Jackson said in an interview.
In fact, the civil rights organization Advancement Project said more than 70 protest actions are scheduled around the country, including occupying government space in Washington and a gathering at police headquarters in Chicago.
Concern about the aftermath of the announcement prompted one school district to call off classes for Monday and Tuesday. The Jennings School District includes some students who live in Ferguson. It had previously planned to close for Thanksgiving starting Wednesday.
Antonio Henley, owner of Prime Time Beauty and Barber Shop in Ferguson, said concern about the pending announcement is hurting business.
“It’s been rough, especially these past few weeks leading up to the decision,” Henley said. “Our business has been cut in half because the people in the community are afraid to come around.”
Salter reported from St. Louis. Associated Press writers Alan Scher Zagier in Clayton, Missouri, and Eric Tucker and Jim Drinkard in Washington contributed to this report.
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