Crime & Justice

Ferguson: Protests after grand jury decides not to indict police officer

People hold hands in a prayer for peace at the Leimert Park area of Los Angeles, Nov. 24, 2014. A grand jury has decided not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old.
People hold hands in a prayer for peace at the Leimert Park area of Los Angeles, Nov. 24, 2014. A grand jury has decided not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old.
Nick Ut/AP
People hold hands in a prayer for peace at the Leimert Park area of Los Angeles, Nov. 24, 2014. A grand jury has decided not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old.
Police officers confront protesters after the announcement of the grand jury decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old, Monday, Nov. 24, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo.
David Goldman/AP
People hold hands in a prayer for peace at the Leimert Park area of Los Angeles, Nov. 24, 2014. A grand jury has decided not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old.
US President Barack Obama speaks following the announcement of the decision in the case of Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson for the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown, in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House on November 24, 2014 in Washington, DC. The US policeman who shot dead an unarmed black teenager in the Missouri town of Ferguson, triggering weeks of racially-charged unrest, will not face charges, the St Louis County prosecutor.
Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images
People hold hands in a prayer for peace at the Leimert Park area of Los Angeles, Nov. 24, 2014. A grand jury has decided not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old.
FERGUSON, MO - NOVEMBER 24: Demonstrators listen to a car radio as a grand jury's decision is delivered in front of the Ferguson police department on November 24, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. A St. Louis County grand jury has decided to not indict Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting of Michael Brown that sparked riots in Ferguson, Missouri in August. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
People hold hands in a prayer for peace at the Leimert Park area of Los Angeles, Nov. 24, 2014. A grand jury has decided not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old.
FERGUSON, MO - NOVEMBER 24: Demonstrators block traffic as they protest in front of the Ferguson police department on November 24, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. A St. Louis County grand jury has decided to not indict Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting of Michael Brown that sparked riots in Ferguson, Missouri in August. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
People hold hands in a prayer for peace at the Leimert Park area of Los Angeles, Nov. 24, 2014. A grand jury has decided not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old.
JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images
People hold hands in a prayer for peace at the Leimert Park area of Los Angeles, Nov. 24, 2014. A grand jury has decided not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old.
FERGUSON, MO - NOVEMBER 24: National Guard troops arrive ahead of the grand jury announcement in the Michael Brown shooting case on November 24, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Ferguson has been struggling to return to normal after Brown, an 18-year-old black man, was killed by Darren Wilson, a white Ferguson police officer, on August 9. His death has sparked months of sometimes violent protests in Ferguson. A grand jury is expected announce today if Wilson should be charged in the shooting. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Scott Olson/Getty Images
People hold hands in a prayer for peace at the Leimert Park area of Los Angeles, Nov. 24, 2014. A grand jury has decided not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old.
Gina Gowdy holds an upside-down American flag Monday, Nov. 24, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo., more than three months after an unarmed black 18-year-old man was shot and killed there by a white policeman. Ferguson and the St. Louis region are on edge in anticipation of the announcement by a grand jury whether to criminally charge Officer Darren Wilson in the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Charlie Riedel/AP
People hold hands in a prayer for peace at the Leimert Park area of Los Angeles, Nov. 24, 2014. A grand jury has decided not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old.
A protester confronts police officers, Monday, Nov. 24, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo., more than three months after an unarmed black 18-year-old man was shot and killed there by a white policeman in Ferguson. Ferguson and the St. Louis region are on edge in anticipation of the announcement by a grand jury whether to criminally charge Officer Darren Wilson in the killing of Michael Brown. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Charlie Riedel/AP
People hold hands in a prayer for peace at the Leimert Park area of Los Angeles, Nov. 24, 2014. A grand jury has decided not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old.
A protester sits in a car looking through the window as the car is parked across from the police department, Monday, Nov. 24, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo., more than three months after an unarmed black 18-year-old man was shot and killed there by a white policeman in Ferguson. Ferguson and the St. Louis region are on edge in anticipation of the announcement by a grand jury whether to criminally charge Officer Darren Wilson in the killing of Michael Brown. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Charlie Riedel/AP
People hold hands in a prayer for peace at the Leimert Park area of Los Angeles, Nov. 24, 2014. A grand jury has decided not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old.
Barbara Jones, joined by other protesters, raises her hands, Monday, Nov. 24, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo., more than three months after an unarmed black 18-year-old man was shot and killed there by a white policeman. Ferguson and the St. Louis region are on edge in anticipation of the announcement by a grand jury whether to criminally charge Officer Darren Wilson in the killing of Michael Brown. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Charlie Riedel/AP
People hold hands in a prayer for peace at the Leimert Park area of Los Angeles, Nov. 24, 2014. A grand jury has decided not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old.
Demonstrators shout slogans during a march in St. Louis, Missouri, on November 23, 2014 to protest the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown. More than 100 protesters marched peacefully through St Louis on November 23, stepping up pressure on a grand jury to indict a white police officer for shooting dead an unarmed black teenager. Police stepped up security and erected barricades bracing for the worst with a grand jury to decide whether to indict the police officer. Brown was shot at least six times by police officer Darren Wilson in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson on August 9, inflaming racial tensions and sparking weeks of protests, some violent.
JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images


Protests erupted in Ferguson, Missouri, and in cities nationwide Monday night after a grand jury decided not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown.

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Update 10:12 p.m.  LA protesters block streets, but still peaceful

Groups of protesters upset about the Ferguson grand jury decision marched out in several directions from Leimert Park Monday night, blocking traffic on La Brea Avenue, Robertson Boulevard and briefly climbing onto the I-10 Freeway before being pushed back by the California Highway Patrol.

A woman with a bullhorn shouted, “Hands up, don’t shoot!” Some protesters stood in a line and held their hands up in surrender as part of the protest. 

Afton Germany, 28, of Los Angeles said she drove straight to Leimert Park after work to join the protests. She said she wasn’t surprised by the grand jury decision.

“This is nothing new,” Germany said. “This stuff happens every single day. So I refuse to let this go unheard.”

After a few minutes of chanting and blocking traffic, the group marched north on Crenshaw Boulevard. 

But the street remained clogged because an orange Metro bus got struck trying to make a U-turn. A tow-truck had to be called to haul away the bus. 

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Update 8:25 p.m.: Thousands rally across U.S., including Los Angeles, after Ferguson decision 

Thousands of people rallied late Monday in U.S. cities, including Los Angeles and New York, to passionately but peacefully protest a grand jury's decision not to indict a white police officer who killed a black 18-year-old in Ferguson, Missouri.

They led marches, waved signs and shouted chants of "Hands Up! Don't Shoot," the slogan that has become a rallying cry in protests over police killings across the country.

In Los Angeles, which was rocked by riots in 1992 after the acquittal of police officers in the videotaped beating of Rodney King, police officers were told to remain on duty until released by their supervisors. About 100 people gathered in Leimert Park while others held a small news conference demanding changes in police policies.

A splinter group of about 30 people broke away and marched through surrounding streets, blocking intersections, but the demonstrations remained mostly small and peaceful.

Activists had been planning to protest even before the nighttime announcement that Officer Darren Wilson will not be charged in the shooting death of Michael Brown.

The racially charged case in Ferguson has inflamed tensions and reignited debates over police-community relations even in cities hundreds of miles from the predominantly black St. Louis suburb. For many staging protests Monday, the shooting was personal, calling to mind other galvanizing encounters with local law enforcement.

Police departments in several major cities said they were bracing for large demonstrations with the potential for the kind of violence that marred nightly protests in Ferguson after Brown's killing. Demonstrators there vandalized police cars, hugged barricades and taunted officers with expletives Monday night while police fired smoke canisters and pepper spray. Gunshots were heard on the streets.

But police elsewhere reported that gatherings were mostly peaceful immediately following Monday's announcement.

About 100 people holding signs that read "The People Say Guilty!" blocked an intersection in downtown Oakland, California, after a line of police officers stopped them from getting on a highway on-ramp. Minutes earlier, some of the protesters lay on the ground while others outlined their bodies in chalk. A similar scene unfolded in Seattle as dozens of police officers watched.

Several hundred people marched through downtown Philadelphia with a large contingent of police nearby.

"Mike Brown is an emblem (of a movement). This country is at its boiling point," said Ethan Jury, a protester in Philadelphia. "How many people need to die? How many black people need to die?"

Several hundred people who had gathered in Manhattan's Union Square to watch the announcement marched peacefully to Times Square after the family of Eric Garner, a Staten Island man killed by a police chokehold earlier this year, joined the Rev. Al Sharpton at a speech lamenting the grand jury's decision.

Chris Manor, with Utah Against Police Brutality, helped organize an event in Salt Lake City that attracted about 35 people.

"There are things that have affected us locally, but at the same time, it's important to show solidarity with people in other cities who are facing the very same thing that we're facing," Manor said.

In Denver, where a civil jury last month found deputies used excessive force in the death of a homeless street preacher, clergy gathered at a church to discuss the decision, and dozens of people rallied in a downtown park with a moment of silence.

At Cleveland's Public Square, at least a dozen protesters held signs Monday afternoon and chanted "Hands up, don't shoot," which has become a rallying cry since the Ferguson shooting. Their signs referenced police shootings that have shaken the community there, including Saturday's fatal shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who had a fake gun at a Cleveland playground when officers confronted him.

A few hundred people marched from Chicago police headquarters toward downtown after hearing the Ferguson decision, using profanity but causing no damage. Police on bicycles, horseback and in squad cars closed portions of roads along the protesters' route.

Associated Press writers Tami Abdollah in Los Angeles; Kantele Franko in Columbus, Ohio; Sean Carlin in Philadelphia; Deepti Hajela in New York; Michelle L. Price in Salt Lake City; and Olga R. Rodriguez in San Francisco contributed to this report.

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Update 8:10 p.m.: Cars vandalized, gunshots heard in Ferguson

Officers in armored vehicles lobbed canisters of irritants that made people's eyes and lungs burn, dispersing crowds in Ferguson after a police car was vandalized, business windows shattered and gunshots rang in the streets.

Some protesters erupted in anger after the announcement that Officer Darren Wilson won't be indicted in the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown. Protesters overran a barricade and taunted police. Some chanted "murderer" and others threw rocks and other items.

The windows of a police car were smashed and protesters tried to topple it before it was set on fire. Officers responded by firing what authorities said was smoke and pepper spray into the crowd. Protesters insisted it was tear gas.

Tweet: Police car fire in Ferguson

Some in the crowd reportedly tried to stop others from taking part in the violence.

KPCC staff and wires

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7:20 p.m.: L.A. activists call for federal review of Ferguson shooting case

Los Angeles civil rights advocates called for a federal review of the Ferguson police shooting case after a grand jury in Missouri found that no crime had been committed by the officer who shot an unarmed black man.

Crowds of activists, community leaders, and residents gathered around a laptops and cell phones at Leimert Park in the Crenshaw District listening to the prosecutor’s explanation of the grand jury decision.  

Los Angeles activist Najee Ali said he wasn’t surprised by the decision of the grand jury not to indict Officer Darren Wilson. 

“Police are rarely indicted,” Ali said. "The federal justice department is the next step."

Los Angeles civil rights activists Earl Hutchinson said he has already submitted a national petition seeking a million signatures to have U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to authorize a “fast track” prosecution of Ferguson police officer  Wilson on civil rights charges in the Brown slaying

Hutchinson said the Ferguson case touches Los Angeles residents, even though they are far away from each other physically.

“They see a pattern of police abuse,” he said. “They identify wherever they are.”

Just a few days after Michael Brown was shot in Ferguson, on August 11, the LAPD shot and killed 25-year old Ezell Ford.

Like Brown, Ford was unarmed. Police say he was trying to reach for an officer’s gun, although neighborhood residents dispute that story. The family has filed a lawsuit against the LAPD.  Although there were protests here in Los Angeles following Ford’s shooting they have been mostly peaceful.

The Los Angeles Police Department announced a citywide tactical alert late Monday afternoon in anticipation of the Missouri grand jury announcement. That means LAPD officers on shift cannot go home until dismissed by a supervisor. This makes more officers available to respond to any disturbances.

In an open letter posted Monday morning, LAPD Capt. Paul Sneell of the Southwest Division wrote that police, “truly recognize that the issues involved in the Ferguson matter run deep, not only in our community but also around the country.”

The LAPD, with local church leaders, called for peaceful demonstrations during a news conference about an hour before the 6 p.m. grand jury announcement.

“We ask everyone to show tremendous discipline as they express their opinions,” said LAPD Deputy Chief Robert Green.

Los Angeles interim Sheriff John Scott also released a statement early Monday evening calling for peace.

"There are strong emotions that surround this decision," the statement said. 

"The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department is committed to ensuring that the residents of our communities are afforded the opportunity to express themselves, their thoughts and their feelings in regards to this matter.  Peaceful demonstrations to communicate a position are more than a tradition, they are a Civil Right.

by Erika Aguilar

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7 p.m.: Obama urges calm after Ferguson decision 

President Barack Obama says he joins with Michael Brown's family in urging peaceful protests after a grand jury decided not to indict the Ferguson police officer who shot and killed the unarmed, black 18-year-old.

Video: Obama addresses Ferguson decision

The president said first and foremost the nation is built on the rule of law. He said despite anger and intense disagreement on either side, Americans need to accept the decision that the grand jury made.

The Justice Department is also conducting an investigation into possible civil rights violations that could result in federal charges.

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7:05 p.m.: Brown family statement calls for peaceful protests 

Michael Brown's family issued this statement after a prosecutor announced that a grand jury has decided not to indict Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson:

We are profoundly disappointed that the killer of our child will not face the consequence of his actions.

While we understand that many others share our pain, we ask that you channel your frustration in ways that will make a positive change. We need to work together to fix the system that allowed this to happen.

Join with us in our campaign to ensure that every police officer working the streets in this country wears a body camera.

We respectfully ask that you please keep your protests peaceful. Answering violence with violence is not the appropriate reaction.

Let's not just make noise, let's make a difference.

—AP

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Update 6:30 p.m.: Grand jury decides not to indict Ferguson police officer

A grand jury has decided not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown, the unarmed, black 18-year-old whose fatal shooting sparked weeks of sometimes-violent protests.

St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch announced the decision Monday evening. A grand jury of nine whites and three blacks had been meeting weekly since Aug. 20 to consider evidence.

At least nine votes would have been required to indict Wilson.

The Justice Department is conducting an investigation into possible civil rights violations that could result in federal charges.

Brown's Aug. 9 death sparked more than a week of unrest that included angry clashes between police and protesters and led Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon to briefly summon the National Guard.

Hours before the announcement, dozens of people gathered in the parking lot across the street from the Ferguson Police Department. Many stood right at the edge of the lot, almost in the street, chanting things "no justice, no peace, no racist police."

One woman leading the group screamed through a bullhorn "indict that cop. Police don't like it. We want an indictment."

Several young men in hooded sweatshirts that said "Peace Keepers" kept people from streaming into the street. A couple of people approached the police department building, but a woman asked them to protest the right way and pulled them into a prayer circle. Shortly after that, 15 uniformed officers came out to monitor the protests.

The grand jury has been considering charges against Darren Wilson, the white suburban St. Louis officer who fatally shot the black 18-year-old after a confrontation in August.

The Aug. 9 shooting inflamed tensions in the predominantly black St. Louis suburb that is patrolled by an overwhelmingly white police force. As Brown's body lay for hours in the center of a residential street, an angry crowd of onlookers gathered. Rioting and looting occurred the following night, and police responded with armored vehicles and tear gas.

Protests continued for weeks — often peacefully, but sometimes turning violent, with demonstrators throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails and police firing smoke canisters, tear gas and rubber bullets.

Nixon said the National Guard will provide security at "critical facilities," such as police and fire stations and utility substations, and would offer other support as needed.

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay said demonstrators would be given leeway to slow down traffic in the streets, but "we will not allow them to hurt anyone or damage anyone's property."

St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley urged people to "think with their head and not with their emotion."

Anticipating the potential for large demonstrations, more than 15 school districts canceled Monday evening activities and several extended their Thanksgiving break by canceling classes Tuesday. Washington University closed a satellite campus in Clayton.

Pastors were planning a rally and prayer service later Monday evening at the West Side Missionary Baptist Church in St. Louis.

"There's a lot of hurt, a lot of brokenness. There's anger and frustration on every side," said the Rev. Ronald Bobo Sr., the church's pastor. "We need the hand of God to lead us and guide us."

The 12-person grand jury met in secret for months, hearing evidence from a wide variety of witnesses as it weighed whether Wilson's should face charges that could range from involuntary manslaughter to murder. The grand jurors could also decide not to charge Wilson at all.

At the lower end of the possible charges is second-degree involuntary manslaughter, which is defined as acting with criminal negligence to cause a death. It is punishable by up to four years in prison. The most serious charge, first-degree murder, can be used only when someone knowingly causes a death after deliberation and is punishable by either life in prison or lethal injection.

—AP

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Update 4 p.m.: Missouri governor calls for peace in Ferguson 

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon is calling for "peace, respect and restraint" when a grand jury announcement is made on whether a white police officer will be charged with fatally shooting a black 18-year-old.

At a press conference Monday, Nixon said he did not know whether the grand jury has decided to indict Ferguson Officer Darren Wilson for the Aug. 9 shooting of Michael Brown.

Nixon was flanked by the state's public safety director and leaders from St. Louis city and county. They said peaceful protesters will be respected, and even allowed to potentially slow down traffic on streets.

But state and local leaders said they will not tolerate the destruction of property or violence.

—AP

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Rallies planned across U.S. before Ferguson decision

Protesters across the country are planning demonstrations even before they know whether a grand jury has indicted a white police officer who killed a black 18-year-old in Ferguson, Missouri.

Video of crowds in FergusonActivists are scheduling marches and rallies from Los Angeles to New York to coincide with Monday evening's expected announcement of the grand jury's decision. The panel was considering whether Officer Darren Wilson should be charged in the shooting death of Michael Brown.

The racially charged case has inflamed tensions and reignited debates over police-community relations in many cities.

Clergy are planning to hold a gathering at a church in Denver, where a jury found deputies used excessive force in the death of a homeless street preacher.

In Cleveland, at least a dozen protesters held signs and chanted about recent police shootings there.

—AP

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Ferguson grand jury has reached decision

A grand jury has reached a decision about whether to indict a Ferguson police officer in the shooting death of Michael Brown, a spokesman for St. Louis County's top prosecutor said Monday.

The panel has been considering charges against Darren Wilson, the white suburban St. Louis officer who fatally shot the black 18-year-old after a confrontation in August.

In a brief email to reporters, spokesman Ed Magee said the decision would be announced later Monday. He offered no immediate details.

The prosecutor's office has told Brown's relatives that the decision will be made public after 5 p.m., family attorney Benjamin Crump told The Associated Press.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon was traveling to St. Louis from the Capitol on Monday afternoon, spokesman Scott Holste told the AP, but did not say why.

Speculation about the timing of an announcement swirled and largely peaceful protests took place during the weekend after the grand jury met Friday but apparently did not reach a decision.

Reggie Cunningham was among Sunday night's protesters. He said he doubted Wilson would be indicted and felt like authorities were delaying an announcement "to spin this in the most positive way possible."

"The more that they drag this out, the angrier people are going to be," said Cunningham, 30, of St. Louis. The shooting triggered riots and looting during the summer, and police responded with armored vehicles and tear gas.

Many had thought a grand jury decision would be announced Sunday, based partly on a stepped-up police presence in the preceding days.

St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch's office had said he expected a decision by mid-to-late November, but it was not ultimately not in his control. The 12-person grand jury deliberates in secret and sets its own schedule depending upon when the members are available.

Crump said Sunday the family was frustrated that the prosecutor did not charge Wilson himself or suggest a charge to grand jurors.

As it is, "you don't have any direction, you're just putting all the evidence out there and you're going to let them figure it out and they can make up their own minds," Crump said. "You know, it just boggles the mind why he thinks this is fair."

It's not uncommon for deliberations to take a while in complex cases when self-defense is alleged or when there are two widely conflicting versions, according to Cole County Prosecutor Mark Richardson, who is not involved in the Ferguson case.

During Sunday's church services, some pastors encouraged their flocks not to fret. The Rev. Freddy Clark of Shalom Church in Florissant told the mostly black interdenominational congregation that "justice will be served" no matter the decision goes, because God will take care of it.

Meanwhile, daily protests continued.

"People feel like it's been engineered, so that the results wouldn't come out until after the election and until the weather got cold, and it would be more difficult to protest," said Susan McGraugh, supervisor of the Criminal Defense Clinic at the Saint Louis University School of Law. "It's really adding fuel to the fire."

—AP

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Social Media reactions in SoCal

Storify: Tweets from around L.A.

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