Grand Jury Gets Until January to Decide on Michael Brown Shooting

Jessica Lussenhop
Michael Brown Sr., Lesley McSpadden and Pastor Carlton Lee in front of the Buzz Westfall Justice Center in Clayton Saturday.
A judge has granted an extension for the grand jury in charge of deciding whether Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson will be acquitted or charged with a crime.

The twelve jurors now have until January 7 to indict Wilson for shooting and killing unarmed teen Michael Brown in Ferguson on August 9 or to let him go, St. Louis County Judge Carolyn Whittington ruled.

Anthony Gray, an attorney for the Brown family, said he was "flabbergasted" when Daily RFT called and told him about the grand jury delay Monday night. He added that the trial depends on St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch, who has been heavily criticized by black leaders for his handling of the case, to present "sufficient evidence."

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6 Times White and Black People in St. Louis County Had Opposite Opinions on Ferguson

Mitch Ryals
Davion Lorich asks police officers in Ferguson if they feel bad about what happened to Michael Brown.
A teenager is dead. A police officer pulled the trigger. There's not much more to the story of Michael Brown that white and black residents of St. Louis County agree on.

Remington Research Group, based in Missouri, polled more than 600 county residents on September 13 and 14 asking eight questions about the shooting and its aftermath. The poll puts in stark light the deep fracture between white and black reaction to the shooting, with the two groups often reporting opposite responses to the same questions.

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Michael Brown Sr. to Officer Darren Wilson: "Turn Yourself in Right Now"

Categories: Michael Brown

Jessica Lussenhop
Lesley McSpadden and Michael Brown Sr. outside the Buzz Westfall Justice Center in Clayton.

Just before a march that spilled into the streets of downtown Clayton and stopped traffic, the father of 18-year-old Michael Brown had pointed words for Ferguson Officer Darren Wilson. Michael Brown Sr. stood beside Lesley McSpadden, Mike Jr.'s mother, outside of the Buzz Westfall Justice Center and addressed the assembled crowd of about 100 supporters.

"We ain't getting no sleep around here. I wonder if he gettin' sleep," said Brown Sr. of Wilson. "If he's getting peace...hey, I could respect him better if he would come here to Clayton right now and turn himself in. Turn yourself in right now. Turn yourself in right now. I could respect that. I would respect you a whole lot better if you would come here right now and turn yourself in."

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Why Ferguson City Officials Still Haven't Met with the Family of Michael Brown

Categories: Michael Brown

Bryan Sutter
Michael Brown's mother, Lesley McSpadden, center, and father, Michael Brown Sr., right, at a national march in their son's memory.

On Wednesday night Daily RFT had an opportunity to speak with Ferguson mayor James Knowles about the previous evening's city-council meeting and a raft of changes to the city's municipal code. At the meeting, he was asked dozens of questions which he could not -- according to standard council operating procedure -- answer. More than one of the speakers during the public comment asked why the city of Ferguson has not apologized to the family of Michael Brown (though one sniffed that an apology would be meaningless anyway).

Daily RFT put that question to Knowles Wednesday night. He said, "I know [Ferguson police chief Thomas Jackson] was able to meet with them the day of the incident and express our condolences. Very quickly attorneys got involved. Early on we tried to have a couple meetings with the family."

Daily RFT then called Anthony Gray, the local attorney on the legal team for the family of Brown, to confirm that account. Gray emphatically denied that the city reached out, either to him or to Brown's parents, for a meeting.

"No. I know of no effort of the mayor of Ferguson trying to reach out to the family. I know of absolutely no efforts whatsoever, and the suggestion is almost offensive, to be honest with you," Gray said.

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PHOTOS: Police Thwart I-70 Blockade by Blocking I-70, Arrest 32 Ferguson Protesters

Categories: Michael Brown

Bryan Sutter
One of the 32 protesters arrested yesterday during a failed attempt to block I-70.
Protesters attempting to block Interstate 70 were rebuffed yesterday by the combined forces of the St. Louis County Police Department, the Missouri Highway Patrol and a massive thunderstorm.

Organized by St. Louis activists Eric Vickers and Anthony Shahid, the act of civil disobedience was meant to protest St. Louis Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch's role in the Michael Brown/Darren Wilson investigation. Vickers helped organize a similar blockade in 1999, when hundreds of protesters halted I-70 to protest unfair hiring practices on road projects. This time, however, the protesters never made it to the road.

"Regardless of whether we're on the freeway, we're here to protest, and that's the only thing that matters," said Maurice Brown, a member of the Disciples of Justice and New Black Panther Party minutes before the protest's planned 3 p.m. start time. "This is not black or white thing, this is for human rights."

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St. Louis Police Chief Spars with Aldermen Over Use of Deadly Force

Categories: Michael Brown

Danny Wicentowski
St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson was grilled by members of the aldermanic board over his department's use of deadly force.
As he drove to the scene of Kajieme Powell's shooting on August 19, St. Louis Metropolitan Police Chief Sam Dotson couldn't shake the thought of Ferguson.

"The whole time I was thinking about the things that happened in Ferguson, and how to make sure the lessons learned in Ferguson were not lessons repeated here," said Dotson, addressing the assembled aldermen during a public-safety hearing at city hall yesterday. The remark drew bitter laughter from the packed audience; the city's highest ranking law-enforcement officer had just essentially admitted the Ferguson Police Department's handling of Michael Brown's shooting was so badly bungled that he considered it a textbook example of what not do in the aftermath of a police-involved shooting.

The crowd's bitter laughter -- along with some hisses and boos -- would be heard again over the course of the three-hour hearing, during which Dotson sparred with aldermen over the SLMPD's use-of-force policy. It was a strangely philosophical hearing, as aldermen such as Antonio French challenged Dotson to defend the use of deadly force against a man such as Powell -- a knife-wielding, mentally unstable shoplifting suspect who was still several feet from two officers when they opened fire on the 25-year-old, killing him.

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Ferguson Mayor James Knowles Details Proposed Civilian Review Board for Police

Categories: Michael Brown

Jessica Lussenhop

Ferguson mayor James Knowles III said he thought Tuesday night's city council meeting -- which consisted of nearly three straight hours of angry and resentful comments toward himself and the board of aldermen -- went better than he expected. One of the first things that set the crowd off was the announcement that, though everyone in attendance would be allowed to speak for three minutes, no one on the dais would be responding to questions.

"We never do that at those meetings. It's a regular business meeting," he told Daily RFT yesterday evening by phone. "We wanted to be able to make sure everyone got their piece in. Myself and others definitely took a lot of notes. There are people I'll get back with directly and personally."

Knowles said in addition to issuing some kind of FAQ release with a series of answers to repeated questions about the investigation, why officer Darren Wilson and Chief Thomas Jackson were not fired, and other oft-heard concerns, he will be continuing to refine the raft of changes to the city's municipal code which were announced Tuesday night. He shared a bit with Daily RFT about how those changes were drafted, and answered other questions about Michael Brown and officer Wilson.

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Michael Brown's Family Demands Officer Arrest at Tense Ferguson City Council Meeting

Categories: Michael Brown

Jessica Lussenhop
Ferguson City Council enters the sanctuary, Mayor James Knowles standing.

There were several extremely tense moments last night at Greater Grace Church at the first Ferguson City Council meeting since the shooting death of Michael Brown one month ago. Police presence in the lobby of the church was heavy as attendees walked through metal detectors. The first time proceedings screeched to a halt amid shouting came after Mayor James Knowles announced that, per normal procedures, each speaker would be allowed three minutes of public comment, but no one on the council would answer questions.

Knowles did, however, receive tepid approval at the first reading of several bills designed to reform parts of the municipal code that, in the wake of the shooting, have been highlighted as unfair to the city's minorities and working poor. But as the public comment period began (the "fill out a comment card" system falling apart almost immediately), it was clear many in the audience felt the new bills were just platitudes.

"We're not going to let you go back to business as usual," said local activist Ashley Yates. "We're going to hold you accountable. How many police officers have been let go? We're gonna make sure they all get let go."

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Ferguson Protesters to Shut Down Highway, Call for New Prosecutor in Michael Brown Case

Categories: Michael Brown

Eric Vickers announces plans for a highway protest with Anthony Shahid, wearing chains on the left.
Long-time St. Louis activist Anthony Shahid will lead protesters across Interstate 70 today, shutting down the highway to protest the lack of a special prosecutor on the Michael Brown court case.

Protesters plan to meet at 3 p.m. at Hanley Road and then block the highway.

"It is going to cause people some discomfort, it is going to cause inconvenience to people," says Eric Vickers, one of the organizers of the Justice for Michael Brown Leadership Coalition, about the highway protest. "That is a small price to pay to change the conditions for African American youth, and it is a very small price to pay to bring justice to Michael Brown. The Wednesday civil-disobedience action will be the start of a direct action campaign that will continue and will escalate until our demands are met."

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Ferguson Police Parodies Will Leave You in Tears -- and Not From the Gas Grenades

Funny or Die
David Koechner subdues a suspicious barbecue in his new skit, "COPS: Ferguson."
We weren't sure what to expect before watching Funny or Die's short about Ferguson. The town has experienced a teenager's death and violence in the streets, and it's likely to be mentioned in any discussion of racism in 21st-century America -- nothing that sounds remotely like a punch line.

Yet Missouri native and Anchorman costar David Koechner makes it work.

A parody of a 2010 episode of Cops, the clip stars Koechner as a racist dingbat in camouflage gear who rolls around Ferguson choking old ladies and stabbing basketballs. At one point he remarks to his partner that, "A lot of cities like to use violence as a last resort, but we've found it's pretty fun to just use it as a first resort. Sometimes I just point my gun at anyone walking around."

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