EspañolA St. Louis County grand jury has decided not to indict Darren Wilson, the Ferguson police officer accused of murdering an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown. The decision came down on Monday evening, and produced a series of violent protests in Ferguson, Missouri.
St. Louis County attorney, Robert McCulloch, stated that “there is no doubt that Wilson caused the death of Brown,” but “after following a rigorous investigation, the jury concluded that there was no reason to prosecute.”
The jury, consisting of nine whites and three blacks, listened to over 70 hours of testimony from 60 witnesses, including medical and forensic experts in blood, toxicology, and firearms. After considering the evidence, they decided there was not enough to charge Wilson. “The members of the jury put their hearts and souls into this process,” said McCulloch.
The people of Ferguson did not take long to express their reaction to the case. Within a matter of minutes, Ferguson residents took to the streets to protest, resulting in clashes with police.
Demonstrators reported the use of tear gas by police, but St. Louis authorities denied the accusations and claimed that they had simply used smoke to disperse the protestors.
In New York, Los Angeles, Washington DC, Chicago, Oakland, and other cities across the country, protestors rallied to express their outrage over Brown’s death and the grand jury’s refusal to indict.
Obama Calls for Peace
Following the news, President Barack Obama delivered a message from the White House sympathizing with Ferguson residents, but urging them to keep the peace and abide by the jury’s decision. “We are a nation based on the rule of law so we need to accept that this was the special jury’s decision to make,” he said.
The president voiced the same concerns as Brown’s parents, who called on the people of Ferguson to demonstrate peacefully in memory of their son.
Missouri: A State of Emergency
Unconfirmed reports in the local press suggest that the first confrontation between protestors and police officers happened in the area of West Florisante, where Wilson killed Brown. Gunshots in the area left four wounded, but it remains unclear who fired the shots.
In anticipating of the grand jury’s decision and subsequent reactions from the public, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency last week. The governor sought to avoid the sort of violent confrontations that rocked the state in the days following Brown’s death.