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Tensions Build and Protesters Arrested in Ferguson Ahead of Grand Jury Decision

Videos of the protests show dozens of police officers in riot gear — equipped with shields and helmets — lined up in the parking lot of the Ferguson Police headquarters.
November 20, 2014, 10:09pm
Image via Reuters

At least five people were arrested during late-night protests at police headquarters in Ferguson, Missouri on Wednesday as demonstrators ran up against riot police. The incidents stirred further tension in the St. Louis suburb as the wait for a grand jury decision looms over whether the officer responsible for August's deadly shooting of an unarmed black teen will be charged.

Videos of the protests show dozens of police officers in riot gear — equipped with shields and helmets — lined up in the parking lot, with Ferguson Police headquarters in the background.


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Video via KARG Argus Radio

According to local media outlet St. Louis Today, there were several dozen people at the rally, who can be seen in the video footage through crowds of reporters. Dressed in winter jackets and knit hats for the freezing temperatures, protesters can be heard shouting at police. A woman leads a chant on a megaphone, chanting: "Who do you serve? Who do you protect?"

One man in a leather fur trapper hat and green jacket quiets down the profanity-shouting crowd as he bangs a metal bucket and addresses the police, telling them to, "Get the hell out of my town."

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Video via KARG Argus Radio

According to several media outlets, the demonstrators did not seem to present any threat or instigate violence. The Guardian reported the rally had actually begun to die down in size before police charged at the crowd and made the arrests.

Wednesday's clashes come amid a week of heightened focus on Ferguson as many anticipate that three-months of grand jury deliberation will come to an end in the next week. The decision will announce whether or not Darren Wilson will be charged in the death of Michael Brown, who was 18 when he was shot down by the Ferguson police officer on August 9.

Brown's killing sparked a string of protests in its aftermath that have more or less continued in the months since, albeit smaller in scale. But with the grand jury decision to come, everyone from state officials to local residents and business owners are readying for potential unrest when the announcement comes out.

In preparation for the grand jury's decision, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency and requested the National Guard be brought in to assist local police on Monday. In October, authorities invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in new riot gear. Ferguson area schools have been informed that they would get at least a three-hour heads up before the decision comes out so that they can get kids home.

Follow Kayla Ruble on Twitter: @RubleKB