As Ferguson, Missouri percolates with tension in anticipation of a grand jury decision whether to indict police officer Darren Wilson for the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown, some Sacramento-area clergy head there to quell possible violent outbreaks. Missouri Governor Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency on Monday in advance of the grand jury’s decision.
Les Simmons, a pastor at Sacramento ACT, journeying to Ferguson again, observed that the last time he visited the city in August it was “engaging at times,” but that “it was a state of real concern.”
The killing of Brown by Wilson has captured the attention of people across the nation. Evidence seems to indicate that Brown, sometime after executing a strong-armed robbery, had words with officer Wilson and allegedly reached into his patrol car in an attempt to wrestle away Wilson’s gun. The tussle that ensued resulted in Wilson fatally shooting Brown. At least one witness argues that Brown was holding his hands up and running away when Wilson shot him.
Yet, although the incident remains unresolved, it is apparent that Pastor Simmons has made up his mind. “The killing of Michael Brown sparked a release of, ‘We want our voices heard, we’re going to march until change happens,’” he said. Simmons failed to specify what he means by change.
Simmons believes that even if the grand jury indicts Wilson, marches will continue in Ferguson because that indictment “is just one step in the mini-steps that will have to take place in order for Michael Brown to get justice, as well as that community.”
Simmons insists that the death of Brown has not only affected Ferguson but also Sacramento. He hopes that the unfortunate episode impels a national conversation about “procedures” and about “profiling.”
Last summer Simmons marched peacefully in Ferguson to support Michael Brown. As far as his role in going to Ferguson again he explained that, “You saw maybe five individuals or so that wanted their voice to be heard in a different way.” Simmons told FOX40, “Well, clergy person in some cases can go and say, ‘Hey, let’s continue to support peaceful protest.’”