Michael Brown's family pleads for peace in advance of Ferguson grand jury decision
By RYAN GORMAN
Michael Brown's family is pleading with protestors to remain peaceful regardless of which decision the grand jury makes.
A decision is expected at any moment from the grand jury deciding if Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson should be prosecuted for fatally shooting the unarmed black teen.
"This family does not advocate violence, looting, rioting," said attorney Anthony Gray, who represents the Brown family. "They are totally against that."
Gray made the desperate plea at a Friday afternoon press conference also attended by community leaders and the Disciples of Justice, a yellow-shirted volunteer group commissioned by Rev. Al Sharpton to help preserve peace in the streets of the racially-divided St. Louis suburb.
"We are not, and this family is not, anti-police," Gray continued.
The words came only minutes after the St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney's Office announced it is working out the details of a press conference to announce the grand jury's decision.
"We want peaceful demonstrations, peace in the streets and justice for Michael Brown's family," said Eddie Hassaun, president of the Ferguson chapter of the National Action Network.
No time or date was given for the press conference, and authorities insisted the grand jury is still deliberating.
Wilson is also reportedly negotiating his resignation, regardless of the grand jury's decision.
When asked by reporters if he was given word a decision was imminent, Gray deferred to local officials, adding that he would expect to hear word through the same channels as everyone else.
The press conference came only hours after a taped message from Michael Brown's father was released, also calling for non-violent protests, no matter the grand jury's findings.
"The city is in a panic," said Hassaun, also a Disciples of Justice organizer, vowing his group would work "on the front lines" to help protect both citizens and police.
The unarmed neighborhood watch group has about 50 members signed up for the unenviable task, the organizer said, adding that more sign-ups are welcome.
The calls for non-violence came only days after Missouri Governor Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency in St. Louis County.
"We don't want just the Governor calling for peace, we're calling for peace, too," said Gray.
The declaration enabled Nixon to activate the National Guard in the event the joint police unit comprised of county and St. Louis Metropolitan Police officers needed assistance controlling the crowds.
Jennings School District, one of four to serve Ferguson students, announced earlier in the day that classes have been cancelled for all of next week.
Previous media reports indicated schools would close early in advance of any grand jury announcement.
St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay said in a separate news conference that protestors would be arrested based "not on their words, but on their actions."
The also said all protestors subject to arrest will be given the opportunity to peacefully leave, but that "violence will not be tolerated."
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