Schools closed, barricades erected in Ferguson as grand jury ruling on shooting looms
Schools were closed, barricades erected and stores boarded up on Monday as a tense St. Louis suburb awaited word on whether charges will be filed against a white police officer who shot and killed a black teenager more than three months ago.
The Aug. 9 shooting sparked angry demonstrations over issues of racism and police brutality, and the announcement of whether a grand jury indicts Officer Darren Wilson for murder or manslaughter or lets him go free is expected to bring more unrest to the largely black suburb of Ferguson.
The grand jury decision into the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown has been expected by the end of November, and each recent day has been filled with rumors and media speculation.
Wilson, meanwhile, got married last month, according to county records disclosed on Monday.
Records show the 28-year-old officer married Barbara Spradling in October. According to The New York Times, which first reported the story, Spradling, 37, is a fellow officer on the Ferguson Police Department and they were married on Oct. 24.
The wedding prompted local activist Deray McKesson to tweet: “Darren Wilson is out here CHILLIN. His life clearly hasn’t slowed down even though Mike’s ended.”
Wilson has been on paid leave and out of the public eye since the shooting.
Awaiting the grand jury’s decision, shop owners have boarded up store fronts, and students in one area school district began an extended early Thanksgiving break on Monday.
More than 100 demonstrators marched in the rain in another St. Louis suburb on Sunday, waving placards reading “Where Do You Stand?” and “Black Lives Matter”.
They blocked traffic for more than four minutes in a symbolic gesture to the more than four hours that Brown’s body lay in a Ferguson street after he was shot.
Lawyers for Brown’s family say the teen was trying to surrender when he was shot, while Wilson’s supporters say he feared for his life and opened fire in self-defense.
The grand jury was expected to resume its work on Monday, although the St. Louis County prosecutors’ office has repeatedly said it cannot comment on the proceedings.
Missouri Governor Jay Nixon has declared a state of emergency in anticipation of the ruling and called in the National Guard.
Brown’s parents, ministers and community leaders have urged sympathizers to remain peaceful, whatever the outcome.
(Additional reporting by David Bailey in Minneapolis, Editing by Chris Michaud and Doina Chiacu)