A St. Louis County grand jury has decided not to put criminal charges against Darren Wilson, the police officer who fatally shot teenager Michael Brown in an altercation that occurred in Ferguson, Mo. three months ago.
The decision was announced in the evening of Nov. 24 by the St. Louis County prosecutor Robert P. McCulloch. It sparked thousands of angry protests all over the nation; people took to the streets while chanting. Outside the grand jury's office, police officers had to endure beating and rocks being hurled at them by an angry mob right after the jury's verdict was heard.
"As soon as Mr. McCulloch announced the verdict, the officers started taking rocks and batteries," said Chief Jon Belmar of St. Louis County. He also said that he had heard around 150 shots fired, although none of them came from the side of the police, authorities said. "I didn't foresee an evening like this. The night's damage had been far worse than any of the nights of unrest that had followed the shooting in August."
Twenty-nine people were arrested following the incident.
Days before the jury made the decision, people had been preparing for what could happen once the verdict was announced. National Guard troops had been dispatched to their respective command posts. Political leaders, such as Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, held last-minute meetings with community members. School officials also decided not to have classes for the week. Business owners looked for ways to prepare for threats of violence in their area.
Across the nation, protesters marched along major streets and gathered at police headquarters even amid frigid temperatures and light snow. Protesters from Chicago, Philadelphia, Seattle and Los Angeles marched across the country while chanting the words "Black Lives Matter" and "Hands Up, Don't Shoot." Some groups were seen holding signs that read "The People Say Guilty!"
In Ferguson, demonstrators have vandalized police cars, hugged the barricades and taunted the officers. The latter retaliated by firing smoke canisters and pepper spray. In the midst of all these, there were gunshots heard on the streets.
Police fired tear gas after seeing rioters looting shops and burning cars in the streets of Ferguson.
Outside the White House, around 300 people were seen protesting after the jury's decision was made. At least two or three dozen Secret Service officers and some D.C. police officers closely watched the demonstration.
President Barack Obama urged the nation to accept the grand jury's decision and encouraged everyone to promote peace. "In too many parts of this county, a deep distrust exists between law enforcement and communities of color," said Obama. "There's never an excuse for violence."