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Tense in Ferguson Ahead of Grand Jury Decision

Protesters gathered in front of the Ferguson Police Department on S. Florissant Ave. Saturday night in anticipation of the grand jury’s decision on Darren Wilson’s fate which could come as early as tomorrow. Though some protesters appeared eager to provoke, their apparent efforts were largely neutralized by the more pacifistic protesters, as well as the diplomatic presence of St. Louis County Lt. Jerry Lohr.

Welcoming challenges from at least five individual protesters, Lohr affably fielded questions ranging from the circumstances surrounding Michael Brown’s shooting death and the sociological implications of police activity to whether a young female protester could use the department’s facilities. (“What about Walgreens?” Lohr suggested. “There’s got to be a gas station open.”)

Third party interests were represented among the protesters including the National Lawyers Guild, observers from Amnesty International, Chicago Action Medical, and at least one clergy woman.

Two arrests were made after participant Trey Yingst allegedly ignored officers’ warnings to stay on the opposite side of the street. Once the ice was broken, a second protester virtually volunteered for arrest by defying police orders to discontinue a traffic barricade as ralliers chanted, “Whose streets? Our streets!”

By this point, protesters had taken to blocking a few incoming cars. With the exception of one (who flipped them off), most of the drivers showed patient acquiescence, honking in rhythm to the protesters’ chants and holding their hands up out through the driver’s seat windows. These gestures of solidarity seemed to earn them passage through the informal checkpoint.

Nevertheless, when one young white female driver, blocked by protesters, presented her appeal by insisting “Damn right! Fuck. The. Po-lice!” a protester stormed up to her window, pointing the way from which she’d come and instructed her to “Get your ass home! I don’t give a fuck!” Her case was subsequently defended by fellow protesters who ushered him away, and she was ultimately allowed through.

Though police occasionally shuffled in and out with riot gear and shotguns loaded with nonlethal rounds, the protest eventually subsided without violent incident by 1 am, as officers filed back into the building, serenaded by the crowd with a rendition of Steam’s “Kiss Him Goodbye.”

More protests are expected on this possible eve of the indictment decision both in Ferguson and Clayton.

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