Protesters Close Galleria and West County Center on Black Friday

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Photo: Jennifer Silverberg
Demonstrators demanding justice for Michael Brown took their protest to two of St. Louis' toniest malls today, closing down the Galleria and West County Center on the busiest shopping day of the year.

About 100 protesters hit the Galleria around 1 p.m. and later staged a "die in" on the floor of the mall.

The mall later closed temporarily from around 2 p.m. till 4 p.m. Richmond Heights police reportedly made no arrests.

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Someone Torched Michael Brown Sr.'s Church

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Jessica Lussenhop
Fire damage in the front room of the Flood Church on West Florissant.
The church attended by Michael Brown Jr.'s father was lit ablaze by arsonists at some point last night or possibly early this morning. Michael Sr. and his wife Cal were just there this past Sunday before the family was collectively baptized at another church just a few minutes down the road in Jennings.

At least a dozen Ferguson business were consumed in fires in the aftermath of the no-indictment announcement from the grand jury. However, the Flood Church fire is an outlier as it is located a mile away from the most destroyed parts of West Florissant, and the surrounding businesses were not damaged in any way.

"You go down this street, you see nothing else touched," said Pastor Carlton Lee after a press conference with the Brown family at Greater St. Mark Missionary Baptist Church. He said he strongly believes his church was targeted.

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For Michael Brown Sr., Weekend Brings a Baptism Instead of a Grand Jury Decision

Categories: Michael Brown

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Jessica Lussenhop
Michael Brown Sr. emerges from the baptism pool.

Michael Brown Sr. pulled his SUV into the parking lot of a tiny white clapboard church in Jennings on Sunday, accompanied by his wife, Cal, and their children. Once inside West Calvary Mission Baptist Church, he disappeared into the men's room on the left-hand side of the foyer while Cal ducked into the ladies' room on the right. When she emerged into the humid sanctuary, Cal had changed out of her dress and kitten heels and into a large T-shirt with a photo of her slain eighteen-year-old stepson Michael Brown Jr. across the front. Michael Sr. wore shorts and a sleeveless undershirt which revealed a tattoo of Michael Jr. on his right shoulder.

They'd come to be baptized. It was a family event, planned months ago. Michael Jr. was supposed to be there, too.

Instead -- as the world knows well -- Michael Jr. was shot and killed by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson on August 9. A grand jury's decision on whether or not to indict Wilson in the killing was rumored to be coming out this weekend -- in fact, at about the same time that the Brown family was scheduled to ascend the dais and be dipped, one by one, in the warm baptismal pool.

But when the grand jury adjourned Friday without making a decision, the Browns were able to go ahead with their long-delayed plans.

"It's just been so much stuff going on, we haven't had a chance to do it," said Michael Sr. "After all the stuff that's been happening, we have to keep doing positive things...it's just something we needed to do for our family."

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Grand Jury Expected to Reconvene Today, Unclear If Proceedings Will Ever Be Public

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Jessica Lussenhop
The Buzz Westfall Justice Center in downtown Clayton.

The grand jury in the Darren Wilson-Michael Brown case is expected to reconvene at some point today after failing to make a decision on whether or not to indict Wilson by the end of the day on Friday.

Speculation was rampant that the decision would be announced at some point on Sunday, especially after barricades went up all around the St. Louis County Police Department and courthouse buildings, and the street in front of the Buzz Westfall Justice Center was completely blocked off. But various reports, including an email from Downtown STL Inc., surfaced throughout the afternoon Saturday that said different.

"There will not be an announcement this weekend as previously expected. Jurors will reconvene to deliberate on Monday. We do not know when they might reach a decision or when that decision might be made public," the email reads.

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Brown Family Attorneys Ask for Peace, Law Enforcement Restraint As Pathologist Testifies

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Jessica Lussenhop
Louis Head, Michael Brown Jr.'s stepfather, at this morning's press conference in Clayton.

Attorneys for the family of slain teenager Michael Brown Jr. addressed the media this morning on a blustery day in downtown Clayton. Inside the Buzz Westfall Justice Center behind them, Dr. Michael Baden, a forensic pathologist who performed a secondary autopsy on Brown's body, began his testimony before the grand jury. It is believed he is one of the final witnesses the group will hear from as they consider whether or not to charge Ferguson Police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Brown.

Attorney Benjamin Crump declined to go into the substance of Baden's testimony, and focused his remarks mainly on a message to area law enforcement.

"Regardless of the decision of the grand jury, this will be a defining moment in the history of the state of Missouri," Crump said. "To the law enforcement officers who will be patrolling the streets, we would like to thank you in advance for not having a repeat of the horrific encounters that took place in August."

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Governor Nixon Lays Out Plan for Post-Grand Jury Announcement Law Enforcement Strategy

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Jessica Lussenhop
Governor Jay Nixon lays out plans for protests in Ferguson and St. Louis after the grand-jury announcement.
Governor Jay Nixon announced the law-enforcement strategy for future protests in Ferguson and St. Louis at a press conference this afternoon at the Missouri State Highway Patrol Troop C headquarters in St. Charles County.

Nixon said three local agencies -- the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, the St. Louis County Police Department and Missouri State Highway Patrol -- will form a unified command to maintain security during protests. The National Guard, which was called up during protests in August, will hold back, Nixon said, until "we determine it is necessary to support local law enforcement."

"As governor, the most important part of my job is keeping the people of Missouri safe," Nixon said. "That is why we have been working around the clock to prepare to keep residents and businesses of the St. Louis region safe -- regardless of the outcome of the parallel local and federal investigations."

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Grand Jury Date Still Not Set, McCulloch's Office Says Mid-November "At The Earliest"

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Bryan Sutter
The St. Louis region is bracing for an announcement from the grand jury, but when?
This Sunday will mark the three-month anniversary of Michael Brown's death, and that date will almost surely pass without the grand jury concluding its investigation into the fatal shooting by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson.

The grand jury has been meeting since August 20, and St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch initially suggested that evidential hearings would wrap up by mid-October. A judge later extended the grand jury's term through January 7, giving it the ability to extend the process into 2015. For the last few weeks McCulloch's office has been giving mid-November as a target date for a decision. But even that timeline appears rather loose.

Yesterday, McCulloch's spokesperson Ed Magee told Daily RFT that the prosecutor's office is still saying mid-November, though he left plenty of wiggle room should that date also be pushed back.

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Attorneys: Darren Wilson Indictment Unlikely

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Theo Welling
Any indictment might be hard to get, say attorneys, especially a murder charge.
Darren Wilson will not be charged with first-degree murder, and there's a good chance he won't be indicted for any crime, say attorneys who are following -- but are not directly involved -- in the grand-jury investigation of the Ferguson police officer.

Last week, Daily RFT gathered the thoughts of several legal experts (criminal defense lawyers and former prosecutors) as leaks from the grand jury once again stoked controversy surrounding the August 9 shooting of eighteen-year-old Michael Brown. Those leaks, including allegations that Brown tried to take Wilson's gun, as well as an autopsy report of Brown's body that suggested the victim was shot once at close range and may not have had his hands up when killed, all seem to the bolster the case for the cop.

See also: Michael Brown Family: Media Leaks Show Pro-Darren Wilson Bias, Bungled Investigation

"It's almost like they are trying to prepare the general public to accept a no true bill," says criminal defense lawyer Nick Zotos of the leaks.

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Michael Brown Family: Media Leaks Show Pro-Darren Wilson Bias, Bungled Investigation

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Jessica Lussenhop
Eric Davis addresses a rally in Clayton in September with Michael Brown's mother, Lesley McSpadden.

The family of eighteen-year-old Michael Brown first heard about leaked information from the investigation into the teenager's August 9 shooting death on Friday. A family pastor called the father, Michael Brown Sr., to tell him about a story in the New York Times ("Police Officer in Ferguson is Said to Recount a Struggle").

Soon, both sides of the family were calling one another, reacting to subsequent articles in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch ("Source: Darren Wilson says Michael Brown kept charging at him") and the Washington Post ("Evidence supports officer's account of shooting in Ferguson"). All three credit unnamed sources and include a St. Louis County medical examiner's autopsy report on Brown Jr., as well as the account of the shooting given by Officer Darren Wilson to a grand jury. Most of the details included in the stories seem to point to a justified shooting (read more about those stories here).

Daily RFT reached Eric Davis, Brown Jr.'s cousin, and a family spokesman, to get their reaction to the leaks. Davis talked about the conversations he's had with Lesley McSpadden, Brown Jr.'s mother, since reports began appearing.

"We've asked from the inception of this investigation to have Bob McCulloch recuse himself and have an independent investigator assigned," he said. "What we feared would be happening with the case being here, with the leaks, is actually happening. We just feel like there's bias toward the police officer."

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Ferguson Protesters React to Leaked Darren Wilson Testimony, Michael Brown Autopsy

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Danny Wicentowski
Students hit the streets for a national day of protest Wednesday, the day two more leaked reports about Michael Brown and Darren Wilson were published.
Reporting by Mitch Ryals, Danny Wicentowski, Lindsay Toler and Jessica Lussenhop

The investigation into the death of Michael Brown has sprung a leak.

Three leaks, in fact. First, the New York Times published details from the Ferguson police officer who fatally shot Brown, Darren Wilson. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch then got its hands on the official autopsy. And finally the Washington Post announced that several black witnesses have given testimony that matches Wilson's version of events.

See also: Darren Wilson Tells Why He Feared For His Life Before Shooting Michael Brown: NYT

After months of keeping a tight lid on the grand jury and civil rights investigations into Brown's death, the leaks feel like a little more than coincidence, especially as the city braces for the potential violence if Wilson is not indicted with a charge in Brown's death.

So what's really going on here? The Department of Justice said it best, to the Los Angeles Times: "The department considers the selective release of information in this investigation to be irresponsible and highly troubling. Since the release of the convenience-store footage, there seems to be an inappropriate effort to influence public opinion about this case."

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