FBI sends 100 agents to prepare for Ferguson protests
Ferguson, Mo. — The FBI has sent nearly 100 additional agents to Ferguson, Missouri, to help law enforcement there as officials prepare for possible unrest ahead of a grand jury decision in the Michael Brown shooting.
A U.S. official said Friday that the agents will supplement the law enforcement presence. The official was not authorized to discuss the FBI plans by name and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Activists, authorities and the family of Michael Brown called for calm Friday as a grand jury drew closer to an announcement in the Ferguson police shooting. But it was unclear whether the panel was still at work or when it would render a decision.
Meanwhile, a school district that includes some students from Ferguson is calling off classes Monday and Tuesday, citing potential unrest if the grand jury announcement occurs soon.
The Jennings School District had already planned to shut down Wednesday through the end of the week for Thanksgiving. A letter sent home to parents on Friday said that with the uncertainty regarding the grand jury announcement, closing schools for the entire week seemed like the most logical thing to do
Earlier Friday, a spokesman for St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch told reporters that jurors were reviewing evidence as they weigh whether to indict officer Darren Wilson.
Five hours later, spokesman Ed Magee declined to say whether the panel was still meeting.
The time, date and place for a news conference announcing the decision has not been decided, Magee said.
Wilson, 28, reportedly told the grand jury that he feared for his life on Aug. 9 as Brown, who was 6-foot-4 and nearly 300 pounds, came at him. Witnesses said Brown was trying to surrender and had his hands up.
The shooting of an unarmed 18-year-old black man by a white police officer led to protests, some of which turned violent. Demonstrations have continued for more than three months, though the number of protesters has dwindled and violence has become uncommon.
There were signs of rising tension.
Protesters were arrested Thursday outside Ferguson police headquarters for the second night in a row after around 40 demonstrators blocked South Florissant Road. One of the three people arrested pushed an officer and was hit with pepper spray, according to St. Louis County Police spokesman Brian Schellman.
Calls for peace and restraint emanated from several quarters, including President Barack Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder and civil-rights leaders and business owners.
The most emotional appeal came from Brown’s father, Michael Brown Sr.
“Hurting others or destroying property is not the answer,” Brown said in the video released by the group STL Forward. “No matter what the grand jury decides, I don’t want my son’s death to be in vain. I want it to lead to incredible change, positive change, change that makes the St. Louis region better for everyone.”
Holder issued a reminder to police to “minimize needless confrontation.”