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Vol. 78/No. 43      December 1, 2014

(front page)
As grand jury decision nears, actions
protest cop’s killing of Michael Brown
Reuters/Jim Young
Opponents of police brutality across country are preparing to respond to grand jury decision on killing of Michael Brown by officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri. Above, Nov. 17 demonstration in Clayton, Missouri, outside building where grand jury was meeting.

CHICAGO — The St. Louis County grand jury investigating the Aug. 9 fatal shooting of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown by Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Darren Wilson has been deliberating for nearly three months. Across the country opponents of police brutality are organizing to respond with demonstrations and other actions if the jury decides to let Brown’s killer walk. Meanwhile, local and state officials are preparing by mobilizing cops and the National Guard, as much of the capitalist media seek to discredit demonstrators and erode widespread support for their message.

In anticipation of the grand jury decision, the capitalist press, through presentation of irrelevant facts and speculation, is seeking to make a case for no indictment. These include a toxicology report that Brown had marijuana in his system, police allegations that Brown scuffled with Wilson in the cop’s squad car prior to the killing, or that Brown was moving toward Wilson when the cop gunned him down some distance away.

Brown was shot at least six times, twice in the head, by Wilson. According to several witnesses, he had his hands up, giving rise to the chant “Hands up, don’t shoot” as a popular slogan of protesters around the world.

Demonstrations continue almost daily in Ferguson demanding Wilson’s indictment and prosecution. In University City near Ferguson several dozen demonstrators staged a die-in Nov. 16. The next day in Clayton, where the grand jury is convened, about 100 demonstrators turned out for an action billed as “The Injustice Freak Show.”

These actions take place as protests against police brutality are happening across the country.

As protest organizers such as the Don’t Shoot Coalition have been conducting training sessions to prepare for peaceful protests, officials from Jefferson City, Missouri, to Ferguson are turning up the volume on what has become over the last several weeks a steady drum beat of violence-baiting against looming protests.

State of emergency declared

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency Nov. 17, citing “the possibility of expanded unrest” and prepared to send the National Guard to the St. Louis area, invoking a law authorizing use of troops “in the event of … actual or threatened public catastrophe.”

“Governor Nixon’s decision to declare a state of emergency without evidence of violence or danger only threatens to stir up tensions and denigrate the peaceful efforts of countless nonviolent activists,” said NAACP President Cornell William Brooks in a statement the same day. “We at the NAACP will work tirelessly to ensure that the civil rights of the demonstrators are upheld. … We commend as well as stand with those practitioners of democracy who have stood strong for over 100 days.”

The state of emergency “is designed to provoke fear and discourage people from protesting for Michael Brown,” Abrahama Keys, an office worker in St. Louis who has taken part in numerous demonstrations against the killing, said by phone.

The FBI issued an intelligence bulletin to police departments across the country saying it “assesses those infiltrating and exploiting otherwise legitimate public demonstrations with the intent to incite and engage in violence could be armed with bladed weapons or firearms, equipped with tactical gear/gas masks, or bulletproof vests to mitigate law enforcement measures.”

“I don’t trust these people to do the right thing,” said Markese Mull, a member of The Mighty 13, a group demanding prosecution of Wilson. “Everyone’s been trying to tell the governor and the chief that the demonstrations are going to be peaceful. The cops are who I’m worried about. They have been training to initiate their kind of violence.”

“They’re preparing for the worst that could happen from their point of view,” Brian Hutton, a lab worker who lives in Ferguson, told the Militant in a phone interview. “The real problem is it’s murder and they want to give Darren Wilson a pass.”

Dan Fein contributed to this article.
Related articles:
Fighters speak out against cops’ killings in Bay Area
Atlanta forum discusses fight against cop brutality
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