Ferguson’s churches to offer shelter from unrest
FERGUSON, Mo. — With a grand jury announcement in the Ferguson case drawing near, many churches plan to open their doors, offering prayer, shelter, food and a safe sanctuary for protesters, residents, schoolchildren and others who may be affected by potential unrest.
The shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was black and unarmed, by a white Ferguson police officer on Aug. 9 has led to numerous protests in Ferguson. The grand jury that is deciding whether to file charges against Darren Wilson, the officer who shot Brown, is expected to reach a decision this month, perhaps as early as Sunday.
While most of the protests have been peaceful, some were violent, especially in the nights immediately after the shooting. There is concern that violence will follow the grand jury decision, especially if Wilson is not indicted.
Several churches plan prayer vigils after the grand jury announcement. Some are concerned that if protests block streets, transporting the injured to hospitals could be difficult.
Christ Church Cathedral in downtown St. Louis will open for a 24-hour prayer vigil after the grand jury announcement. Cathedral Dean Mike Kinman cited the “deep brokenness” in the community after Brown’s death.
“We know this decision will be a crisis point for our region,” Kinman said. “Even the anticipation of it has put St. Louis in a place of fear, anxiety and high reactivity.”