I didn't see the whole press conference Governor Nixon gave today. But social media has been buzzing, and it seems like even the most uninvolved people (those that have not been paying attention to events in Ferguson or altered their lives much except where it intrudes) are holding their breath.
"Nixon's warning to Ferguson protesters sounded a lot like dialogue from Selma" From VOX: http://www.vox.com/2014/11/12/7204491/selma-ferguson-mlk
EDIT: Here is Mayor Slay's edict. (Ferguson officials have been noticeably absent from the proceedings.) http://www.mayorslay.com/from-fgs/after-grand-jury
A MOVEMENT, NOT A MOMENT
Since no one expects to hear the decision is to indict and proceed with a trial, there are a lot of conversations among Ferguson supporters about what the most effective response will be. And deeper questions, too. Because no one thinks this will be over even if there is an indictment.
Without an indictment, there will be pursuit of civil suit. There will likely be renewed long term protests. And no matter what happens, what has been born from the Ferguson protests and protesters are many groups and committees and legal actions that will continue to work to end racism, police brutality, and government corruption for years to come. "The whole damn system, is guilty as hell."
In St. Louis there is still Kajieme Powell and Vonderrit Myers, Jr. In Ohio there is John Crawford. In Utah, Darrien Hunt. There's still the matter of body cams, and de-militarization of police. And issues like economic development, jobs, healthcare, housing, and public transit. What has become obvious to many many people is that there are a lot of long term changes that need to be attended to.
So while we all wait for this announcement, for the people that are committed to Justice for Mike Brown, no one thinks life will go back to "normal". This is just the beginning.
But what will everyone do at the moment of the Grand Jury verdict?
PROTESTS, VIGILS, BOYCOTTS & OTHER PLANNED ACTIONS
This is a link to protests planned around the country after the verdict is announced: http://fergusonresponse.tumblr.com/
There is a call to convene at the Ferguson Police Department at 5 PM on the day of the announcement. The best thing to do is to get yourself a twitter account and follow the Ferguson hashtag: #Ferguson Immediately sign up for the newsletter: http://eepurl.com/4Sc3j
Great article on Deray and other Ferguson activists: http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/ferguson-protest-organizers-i-sleep-eat-and-breathe-this/2014/11/11/a404fcc2-6457-11e4-836c-83bc4f26eb67_story.html
You can follow @deray and @nettaaaaaaaa (8 a's) on twitter to start, they run the newsletter, and tweet and instagram from all the protests. Check out MillennialAU and HandsUpUnited and Lost Voices and OperationHelpOrHush and Black Lives Matter and HealSTL. Anonymous is OpFerguson. That will get you going on Twitter, and able to keep up with the Ferguson protest community.
On the day of the decision and following, Twitter will be how the Ferguson Protesters communicate when and where to meet for the protests and marches, as they have for the last 95 days. Twitter is also where you can find links to the livestreams of all the protests.
EDIT: another group worth following is the Don't Shoot Coalition, composed of 50 organizations. They wrote the demands for the police in wake of the verdicts. Here is another great article about the protests written by one of their members: http://www.stltoday.com/news/opinion/article_1cb26dec-d2b6-5ddd-aba9-b6110c0a71f5.html#.VGUhmSVKIcw.twitterhttp://www.stltoday.com/news/opinion/article_1cb26dec-d2b6-5ddd-aba9-b6110c0a71f5.html#.VGUhmSVKIcw.twitter
It seems certain that if you go out to protest you should be prepared to "tolerate violence" from these guys:
Get a gas mask, some maalox and milk, etc. Be prepared to be arrested, even if you aren't doing anything illegal or violent. In fact, a good thing to do would be go to the legal workshop tomorrow night: http://www.stlamerican.com/news/local_news/article_227f2160-67b2-11e4-953a-53ff1a86b6e7.html Or at the very least, go by the Ferguson P.D. protest site and talk to one of the National Lawyers Guild legal observers, in the bright green hats, and just ask them what to do to prepare.
From the Anti-Media: 8 Lessons from the Million Man March. http://theantimedia.org/8-lessons-learned-million-mask-march-can-benefit-activists/
Also from Anti-Media, another article on what to do after the verdict: http://theantimedia.org/mobilizations-planned-across-america-darren-wilson-found-guilty/ http://theantimedia.org/mobilizations-planned-across-america-darren-wilson-found-guilty/
Christ Church Cathedral in downtown St. Louis will be having a 24 hour vigil from the moment of the announcement. Everyone is encouraged to come for as long or short as they wish, and join in the prayer vigil or just to sit quietly and reflect and think.
(I wish the Central Library would also stay open for 24 hours, to offer refuge to atheists, and to activists that want to do research or create media for the next step.)
There is also a leaflet circulating calling for a mass strike and boycott. Stay inside, don't go to work or school, don't buy anything. The leaflet is vague on how long to do this, and also shows no authorship. But the idea is circulating heavily among people, mostly older, like myself. I visited the protest site the other night and a woman said "we should stay inside for three weeks, then come back out to the P.D. and start protesting again."
I would add another dimension to this, which is the OPTINSTL "Armchair Revolution". Not like the picture, below, but a revolution from your armchair. If you choose to participate in the mass boycott and strike, use the time at home to organize and engage in mass twitter storms, email campaigns, and flooding the phone lines of elected officials, including McCulloch and the DOJ, with your comments, questions, and suggestions about justice for Mike Brown, institutionalized racism, police brutality, and police reform and de-militarization.
(Also, you can be on standby to make calls on behalf of any protesters that are arrested, and monitor from the livestreams.)
Personally, I will be leaving a candle lit In Memoriam again, as many of us in St. Louis did in the nights following Brown's murder. A public candlelight vigil will likely be called for by some group or church-- or perhaps has been already, and I just haven't heard yet-- but this is another activity I would engage in during the boycott and strike.
And a boycott/strike is not visible, and across the country and probably around the world, media has crews on stand by to come to Ferguson the moment the announcement is made. A boycott and strike would give them nothing to report or film.
Unless there is an eruption of anger and mass movement from people that have not participated since the first two weeks, or not participated much, or at all, before. Then the press would have essentially, an "amateur night" to report. And the police and government would be hit with a double whammy. A crowd of protesters in the streets that they are NOT familiar with, and demanding flood of calls and emails from the St. Louisans staying at home. And then the many people missing from work due to the strike, and revenues being lost due to the boycott, would also put a lot of (legal, non-violent) stress on "business as usual."
THE TROLLS, RACISTS & CRAZIES
Anyone that has ever talked to even a few of the 100 or so core protesters, or the 400 plus who participate regularly and/or provide support, one of the fears is that violence will be started by newcomers and outsiders- very angry people, opportunists, or the kind of people in the photo below- and then blamed on the protesters.
Trolls are racists and white supremacists and women with a crush on Darren Wilson that have nothing better to do all day than spew vile hatred and harass peaceful protesters.
And while the trolls are extremely troublesome on their phones or computers from mom's basement, there are some that will put on pants and load up the back seat with artillery and drive around looking to pick a fight. The Klan is also promising to be on "patrol." (I couldn't copy an image of the leaflet that is circulating on twitter, but basically, they say they can't wait to put on their white hoods and pick up their guns. In recent years they have not had a strong show of force. But who knows? Be prepared.)
EDIT: Here is an article with a copy of the leaflet. http://blogs.riverfronttimes.com/dailyrft/2014/11/missouri_kkk_leader_says_ferguson_protests_boosting_recruitment.php
My biggest worry is about the police. My next biggest worry is racist random shooters. I have no worries about the Ferguson Protesters.
(Even the incident of the so called "Student Streamer" getting chased out of a meeting at a church is not cause for alarm. There are many things about this guy and the incident that are not being reported in the mainstream media, and I will do a post about it as soon as possible and link to it here. Suffice to say, if you go the training workshop or check in with a legal adviser, you should be fine. And unless you are livestreaming, yourself, I'd say leave your cell phone at home. If you get arrested you will want to call Jail Support from the jail, and they will probably already be there. And you don't want the police having access to your phone while you are detained. Just my opinion.)
MUSINGS ON "CRICKETS" AS STRATEGY
One of the women I follow on Twitter says "the best response to the Grand Jury verdict is crickets." She is also in favor of the boycott for economic reasons. In convos with her and others these are some of the strengths:
The "crickets" would publicly humiliate police. And the longer it went on the more nervous they would become. All that money wasted on troops and riot gear (assuming that the streets were truly empty of people and business as usual).
As I said above, if there were people that wanted to engage violently then the peaceful would not be caught up in it. It seems like the entire "not involved" part of the city is going to shut down anyhow. Schools are closing, businesses are boarding up. When the great apocalypse fails to materialize, and black savages don't run through the streets killing white people, or whatever the hell all these idiots think is going to happen, it would dawn on them that they had, in fact, participated in "shutting it down."
My vision would be: the boycott/strike, armchair revolution, and home candle vigils would go on for at least three days, and the next business day after that there would be a "hands across Saint Louis" silent protest/vigil starting in Clayton at noon, and running until 4:45 PM. Instead of a mass of people gathered or marching in the street, people would stand side by side, single file, as far down the streets of St. Louis as possible. Miles of streets with protesters standing silently for the amount of time Michael Brown, Jr.'s body lay in the street.
Whatever happens, the movement will continue, through group and individual efforts. Everyone has a part to play.
I hope that this blog post has been helpful for you to determine what response you will take.
Stay safe. And "Stay Woke".
(EDIT: I just wanted to add a personal note about non-violent versus violent action. Often people that want to respond violently will say "I am willing to die for my country" or "I will take a bullet for my beliefs." But a pacifist will also die for his or her beliefs (or country or people, etc), he or she won't kill someone else, too. Pacifism is truly courageous. Violence is circular. It creates more of itself. And unless it is very large and well organized movement, strong enough to stand up to the military and seize and maintain power, it does not seem to accomplish anything long term. I also believe that human evolution has reached a point, particularly in a developed, wealthy nation like ours, that the peaceful protest, civil disobedience, and more widespread attention and pressure on the government by the people is a true path to lasting change, and real peace and real justice.)