US city of Ferguson prepares for grand jury decision

Shopkeepers board up windows in Ferguson in anticipation of violence in the aftermath of a grand jury decision in the case involving a police officer killing an unarmed 18-year-old.

US city of Ferguson prepares for grand jury decision

World Bulletin/News Desk

The U.S. city of Ferguson is on tenterhooks as it awaits a grand jury decision on whether to bring criminal charges against a police officer who killed an unarmed 18-year-old.

Shopkeepers in the area have begun to board up windows and gun sales have spiked in preparation for potential violence.

It has now been more than three months since white Ferguson police officer, Darren Wilson, shot and killed Michael Brown, igniting weeks of intense protests, some of which deteriorated into violence.

Fearing that violence will return to the St. Louis suburb, Jake Nguyen, the owner of Furniture Mattresses For Less on West Florissant Ave, a continued focal point for protesters, was one of the last shopkeepers to board up his windows along the street.

He did so as he saw more and more shops take precautions, and said he didn’t want to become an easy target for looters.

In a sign that area residents are preparing for the worst, gun sales have dramatically risen since the Aug. 9 shooting of Brown.

Steven King, the owner of Metro Shooting Supplies, which is located less than a 20-minute drive from Ferguson, said that tensions have started to grow with rumors that the grand jury could return its verdict any day now, leading people to go to shops like his in pursuit of a weapon.

“Now you have people that are buying firearms that would normally not buy firearms because they don’t know if it is going to hit Clayton, or Ledeu, or St. Charles, or Fenton,” King said, using names of nearby St. Louis suburbs. “We’ve had everyone you can think of come in and buy firearms – about 60 percent of our firearm buyers are new, first-time gun owners.”

He said that private training lessons for those customers are booked through the beginning of 2015.

Even as gun sales are up in the area, others are organizing to keep the peace.

 "We are attempting to give people the skills of being safe when engaging in non-violent civil disobedience as we are anticipating a high level of police violence,” said Rev. Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou, who runs a workshop in St. Louis to help demonstrators react to a possible police crackdown like that which occurred in August.

“Between Aug. 13 and Oct. 2, at least 19 journalists and members of the media have been arrested by law enforcement with others subjected to tear gas and the use of rubber bullets,” Amnesty International said.

An Anadolu Agency correspondent, Bilgin Sasmaz, was wounded and detained by police on Aug. 17 while covering the protests. In video footage released shortly after his detention, an officer could be seen threatening Sasmaz.

On Nov. 12, parents of Michael Brown went to the UN in Geneva to testify before the UN Committee against Torture as part of its first review on the U.S.'s implementation of the UN Convention against Torture under the Obama administration.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 17 Kasım 2014, 13:51

Muhammed Öylek