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Tory Russell, 30, is one of the new young protest leaders in Ferguson, Missouri, where people are on edge awaiting the grand jury's decision on whether to charge white police officer Darren Wilson with fatally shooting unarmed African-American 18-year-old Michael Brown this past summer.
Russell says more buildings are being boarded up and people are stocking up on groceries. He is worried that police in a state of emergency will use excessive force, as he believes they did against protesters following Brown's death this past August. Russell tells Here & Now's Jeremy Hobson he is frustrated with "elder leadership" telling young protesters to calm things down.
What’s the mood in Ferguson?
“It was tense before, but anxiety levels have reached a fever pitch actually. You see more buildings and stores being boarded up, you see people frantically running to grocery stores. People are just concerned—I got an email yesterday, one of my friends said they had a new evacuation plan at work, because they worked in a government building. The anxiety is high here to say the least.”
What do you think would happen if there is no indictment?
“Same thing I would think if there was an indictment. People are going to pour out into the streets, not a celebration or anger. I think it’s just going to show we did something — 102 days of marching and protesting just to get an indictment. And if we do get it, it will be powerful, and if we don’t, it’s almost a slap in the face and makes everyone’s criticism of the justice system almost valid.”
What do you think of those who side with the police?
“I think we have to start looking at the steps of how we got to the situation today, which is people went outside, they were upset and they were met with a militarized police force; tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets, and on some nights real bullets. Those things are not being covered and people are justifying those things and I can’t understand it.”
This story aired on November 18, 2014.
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