A glance at Ferguson: Then, now and the future
ST. LOUIS (AP) _ During a quiet holiday night in Ferguson, a small group of protesters demonstrated inside St. Louis-area retail stores, speaking out about a grand jury’s decision not to indict the officer who fatally shot Michael Brown.
The protests, which appeared to be peaceful, continued Friday morning at the start of what is traditionally the busiest shopping day of the year.
About two dozen people chanted “no justice, no peace, no racist police” and “no more Black Friday” after police moved them out of a Wal-Mart during an early-morning protest in Manchester, Missouri.
Officers warned that protesters risked arrest if they didn’t move at least 50 feet from the store’s entrance, then began advancing in unison toward the protesters until they were moved further into the parking lot.
The mostly black group of protesters chanted in the faces of the officers _ most of whom were white _ as shoppers looked on.
“We want to really let the world know that it is no longer business as usual,” said Chenjerai Kumanyika an assistant professor at Clemson University. He added that the group had already visited several big box stores in the region that were open for Black Friday to protest the grand jury’s decision, among other things.
Although part of the aim in disrupting Black Friday was to call attention to disagreement with the grand jury’s decision and the way the case was handled, Kumanyika said it was also to highlight other forms of injustice.
“Capitalism is one of many systems of oppression,” he said as the group cleared out of the parking lot.
The protest ctivity in Ferguson was calm Thursday, just three nights after the grand jury’s announcement led to widespread commercial looting and vandalism.
Community members decorated boarded-up windows, and some went to a church service where prayers were said for the family members of Brown and Darren Wilson, the white Ferguson officer who shot the unarmed Brown during a struggle Aug. 9.
Hours after nightfall, there was no organized protest, and the downtown streets were mostly empty. Occasionally, National Guard troops would patrol the area.
On Thursday morning, a few cars drove through downtown St. Louis for what the organizer called a “pro-community” car cruise. Paul Byrd would not specifically say whether he supported Wilson, but he noted he supports the job of police officers, adding, “Those causing the trouble are making a bad name for everyone.”
During the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, about 50 people walked down the sidewalk carrying signs and chanting, “Hands up, don’t shoot” _ a reference to Brown’s death. Seven were arrested.
“We will not tolerate, under any circumstances, any effort to disrupt this parade,” police Commissioner William Bratton said earlier Thursday. “This is a national event, a historic event. Anybody who would seek to interrupt it would be callous, indeed, on this very special day.”
There have been numerous protests in major cities across the country since the grand jury’s decision. In Los Angeles, a total of 338 people were arrested over three days for protests. There also were arrests in Oakland, California, following a march that deteriorated into unrest and vandalism.
THE BEGINNING: Wilson shot and killed Brown shortly after noon in the middle of the street after a scuffle. Brown’s body lay there for hours as police investigated and a crowd of angry onlookers gathered. Several days of tense protests in the predminantly black community followed, prompting Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon to call in the National Guard. 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 news conference Monday night to reveal the decision.
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.