A large crowd of protesters marched in the Shaw neighborhood of St. Louis on Sunday night, the latest demonstration leading up to the grand jury decision that will determine the fate of Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, who shot and killed unarmed teenager Michael Brown in nearby Ferguson, Missouri.
The protesters chanted and blocked traffic under police supervision. Shaw — the site of another fatal police shooting of a black teenager in early October — has seen fewer protests than Ferguson, a 30-minute drive north from the heart of St. Louis where the protesters gathered Sunday. Public anger at police over both killings was evident last night.
Short videos of the protest show people chanting "We don't get it, shut it down," "No justice, no peace," and "Hey hey, ho ho, these killer cops have got to go!"
Roughly 125 people participated in the two-hour march Sunday night in the Shaw neighborhood, according to a report from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Police made no arrests and the protests were mostly peaceful, reports and videos show. Vandals, however, did deface a statue and other property with anti-police messages.
Reports say the vandals sprayed the statue with "FTP" — likely an abbreviation for "Fuck the police" — and the message "If we burn, you burn with us."
Brown's killing has pushed simmering racial tensions in Ferguson and St. Louis to a boiling point. Protesters took to the suburban streets after the shooting and have mostly stayed there, with protests sometimes turning violent.
Ferguson is a mostly black town of about 21,000 and is served by a majority-white police force. A grand jury is in the final stages of deciding whether to indict Wilson for Brown's death. Authorities say Brown was behaving aggressively and the shooting was justified, while Brown's family and some witnesses claim the teenager was retreating from Wilson, hands in the air, when he was shot.
The Ferguson protests have largely overshadowed the furor surrounding the death of Vonderrit Myers Jr., who was shot and killed on October 9 by an off-duty police officer in the Shaw neighborhood, which is about 16 miles south of Ferguson. Police say Myers had a weapon and fired at the off-duty officer first. Sunday's protest began at Shaw Market, near where Myers was killed.
Tensions in and around Ferguson have grown in the past several days as the community awaits the grand jury's decision about Wilson. Last week, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency to brace for the possibility of unrest.
It's unclear when exactly the grand jury will announce a decision, but it's said previously that it expects to do so before the end of November. The grand jury reportedly reconvened on Monday to hear additional evidence.
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