- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 23, 2014

Lawyers for the family of Michael Brown said Sunday that the secret grand jury process deciding the fate of police officer Darren Wilson is unfair.

Benjamin Crump, lead attorney for Mr. Brown’s family, said it is the prosecutor’s job to recommend charges, not present all the evidence to a grand jury and leave the decision up to them.

“We don’t think it’s fair,” he said on ABC’s “This Week.” “Why [can’t prosecutors] come and recommend charges right now based on probable cause?”

Authorities in Missouri are preparing for the imminent release of the grand jury report into the August shooting death of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager who got into a confrontation with Officer Wilson, a white police officer.

Leaks from the grand jury testimony indicate Mr. Brown struggled with the officer in the patrol car minutes after he stole items from a store.

A decision was expected to be announced on Sunday, but the grand jury will reconvene for at least one more day on Monday, with its findings expected at any time.


SEE ALSO: Obama appeals to Ferguson protesters not to engage in violence


Protesters noticed an increased police presence in recent days, including barricades set up around the building where jurors were meeting, The Associated Press reported.

Many people are protesting peacefully, but some are already preparing for violent riots. Two members of the New Black Panther Party were arrested Friday for trying to acquire guns and explosives, including pipe bombs, to use in the protests, NBC News reported.

Some have speculated that the jury’s decision has been delayed on purpose to come out after the election and when it’s cold enough that it makes protesting more difficult. The uncertainty of when a decision would come has made residents anxious, AP reported, though local church services on Sunday stressed the need to stay calm.

President Obama urged protesters not to engage in violence when a grand jury releases its report.

“First and foremost, keep protests peaceful,” the president said Sunday on “This Week.” “This is a country that allows everybody to express their views, allows them to peacefully assemble, to protest actions that they think are unjust. But using any event as an excuse for violence is contrary to rule of law and contrary to who we are.”

Officials wondered if declaring a state of emergency in Ferguson ahead of any grand jury action could actually make the rioting worse and more violent.

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani questioned why Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon had already publicly declared a state of emergency.

“I would have had a state of emergency, but I would have kept it quiet,” he said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “It’s hard to second guess him. He had a tremendous amount of violence.”

NAACP President Cornell William Brooks said he’s concerned that officers in Ferguson are already assuming protesters will become unruly.

“The governor’s responded to this as though it were a security crisis as opposed to a social justice crisis,” he said on “Face the Nation.” “I believe that his actions with respect to the guard in the state of emergency are presumptuous as to the intent of the demonstrators.”

Anthony Gray, a lawyer for Mr. Brown’s family, said the fact that grand jury proceedings are kept secret adds another layer of anxiety to an already tense situation in Ferguson, since violent riots broke out after the shooting in August.

“It’s difficult to predict how people are going to respond,” he said on “Meet the Press.” “I’m hopeful that there will be peace in Ferguson.”

Mr. Gray said that if the case does go to trial it could be “therapeutic” for people in the community, though it’ll likely not be helpful for those who are “locked and loaded on how they feel about the situation.”

“I’m not sure if it would be therapeutic for them, but it may be therapeutic for the community,” he said.

Only one in four Americans believes Officer Wilson should be charged with murder, a Rasmussen Reports poll released Friday found. More than half of all black adults think the white police officer should face murder charges, compared with just 15 percent of whites.

Mr. Giuliani said those on the grand jury are under tremendous pressure, knowing the violence that may erupt if they do not press charges against Officer Wilson.

“I feel sorry for these people because they know if they walk out of that grand jury room and have not indicted they may have created a massive riot in their city and across the country,” he said.

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