In a video address published Thursday, Michael Brown's father urged demonstrators to stay peaceful after a grand jury decides whether to indict the police officer who killed his unarmed 18-year-old son.
"My family and I are hurting, our whole region is hurting," Michael Brown Sr. said in the video, uploaded by St. Louis Forward, a St. Louis civic collective. "I thank you for lifting your voices to end racial profiling and police intimidation. But hurting others or destroying property is not the answer.
"No matter what the grand jury decides, I do not want my son's death to be in vain. I want it to lead to incredible change, positive change, change that makes the St. Louis region better for everyone."
A decision is expected any day from the St. Louis Country grand jury that has been examining evidence from the Aug. 9 shooting in secret for months. The St. Louis County prosecutor's office caused a brief stir Thursday evening when a spokesman issued a test email to a massive list of news organizations, presumably as a dry run for the formal notification of a news conference to announce the decision.
This week, prosecutor's spokesman Ed Magee told the Los Angeles Times that the 12 grand jurors had not been explicitly instructed to ignore news coverage of Ferguson but have been told they are allowed to use only the evidence they've seen in session to reach a decision on whether to charge Wilson.
Although legal experts say there is a number of charges under Missouri law that Wilson could face in connection with the shooting — especially if the grand jury determines Brown was trying to surrender when Wilson fatally shot him — demonstrators have been openly skeptical that Wilson will face charges.
A state of emergency ordered by Gov. Jay Nixon remains in place. Many stores in Ferguson are boarded up as some fear a repeat of the tear gas and looting that erupted in August in the St. Louis suburb.
Activists and local black politicians have been fighting back against the assumption that protests will turn violent if there is no indictment, but disruptive protests are expected. Five demonstrators, two of them from out of state, were arrested outside the Ferguson Police Department late Wednesday after several dozen protesters squared off with a small line of riot officers.
The remarks Thursday from Michael Brown Sr. were largely aimed at trying to prevent a return of the sporadic violence seen in August.
"We live here together, this is our home, we are stronger united," Brown said. "Continue to lift your voices with us and let's work together to heal, to creating lasting change for all people regardless of race."
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