This Time Around the Majority of Protesters in Ferguson May Decide to Pass


FERGUSON, Mo. — When protests broke out here after the police shooting of an unarmed black teenager in August, James Bass knew he had to hit the streets. His father lived in Ferguson, he lived close by, and like many young black men in the St. Louis area, Mr. Bass wanted his voice to be heard.

Amid the chaos of tear gas and police orders to disperse one night, Mr. Bass, 22, was trying to get away from the crowd, only to find officers chasing him, he said, and ordering him to the ground. He spent that night in jail. He was released only after he called his manager at the swimming pool company where he worked, who in turn got the company’s owner to post Mr. Bass’s roughly $500 bond.

“At the time when I did get arrested, my job was in jeopardy because I had work the next day,” Mr. Bass said. “I was like, ‘I’m going to try to avoid getting locked up.’”

With his sole source of income at stake, Mr. Bass said he was unsure whether he would join a new round of protests, expected after the grand jury decides whether to indict Darren Wilson, a white police officer, for killing Michael Brown, 18. That decision is expected to come any day.

Across the St. Louis area, activists, students and clergy members have been planning their responses to the grand jury’s decision. They have made it clear that they plan to again take to Ferguson’s streets, no matter what the grand jury concludes.

Far less clear is which path young men, like Mr. Bass, will choose. They took to the streets spontaneously this summer; some because they believed they could have been shot as easily as Mr. Brown, some because their friends were there, and others to seize an opportunity to confront the police.

Three months ago they faced down lines of heavily armed police officers, but today they again are juggling the day-to-day realities of life. Continue Reading

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