Michael Brown Verdict Has Ferguson on Edge as Law Enforcement and Residents Prepare For Violence

Pam WrightLife

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The impending grand jury verdict in the shooting death of Ferguson, Missouri teenager Michael Brown has the city on edge as it prepares for violence.

City, state and national authorities are combining forces to prepare for the demonstrations that are likely to ensue following the announcement.

The grand jury is deciding whether to indict Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson after fatally shot Brown last August. Racial tensions have been heightened for months becaue Wilson is white and Brown was black.

According to ABC News, stores are boarding up windows and civil rights groups are holding non-violence training sessions to prepare.

City officials fear the grand jury's decision could lead to public outbursts no matter which way the jury rules, but are more concerned that the grand jury will decide against indicting Wilson.

Benjamin Crump, a Brown family attorney, pleaded with protesters to remain non-violent and asked for police restraint.

“To law enforcement officers who will be patrolling the streets, we would like to thank you in advance for not having a repeat" of the tactics that critics said were heavy handed.

Residents of Ferguson are just as nervous as law enforcement, especially gun shop owners.

"We're hearing some rather specific threats through law enforcement and customers coming in the store," John Stephenson, the general manager of Metro Shooting Supplies in nearby Bridgeton, told ABC News. "I can't take them as cast in concrete, but word is on the street they're going to be hitting gun stores."

Stephenson said the store has seen a 300 percent increase in sales in recent weeks. He said he fears his store will be targeted because "very small segment of our society, the people that choose to misbehave," will try to rob the stores for ammunition.

"More and more people have gotten to the point where they're going to take matters into their hands," Stephenson said.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, who declared a state of emergency in anticipation of violence, said this week he is determined to make sure riots like those that occurred in August are not repeated.

"Violence will not be tolerated," Nixon said. "The residents and businesses of this region will be protected."

Pam Wright