St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch’s decision to announce the Ferguson grand jury decision in the evening drew complaints Tuesday from many who wondered whether that helped fan the flames of unrest and violence leading to destruction in the St. Louis suburb.
McCulloch’s news conference that began just before 8:30 p.m. Monday, during which he disclosed Officer Darren Wilson would not face indictment.
By the time of the announcement, many protesters had already gathered in Ferguson and the decision sparked violent protests that included gunshots and the burning of several businesses and vehicles in the St. Louis area. At least 18 people were taken to hospitals with injuries.
The decision to announce at night was McCulloch’s alone, Gov. Jay Nixon said Monday. McCulloch spokesman Ed Magee concurred, and he defended the decision.
“We coordinated with law enforcement, gave schools time to get the children home and in a safe location, gave businesses time to make a decision regarding the safety of their employees …” Magee said.
Former two-term Ferguson Mayor Brian Fletcher, who now leads the “I Love Ferguson” campaign to help restore the community, called the timing “horrible.”
“I don’t understand why it wasn’t done in the early-morning hours of 4 a.m. or 5 a.m.,” Fletcher said. “You could still call off school and there would have been a full day of daylight for law enforcement to get into position to prevent the unrest and ultimate destruction of our city.”
Darnesha Tabor, 20, who lives in Hazelwood, a community near Ferguson, also questioned the timing.
“They made the decision to announce the decision later at night when you know things are going to go awry,” Tabor said. “You can’t fully control things at night because it’s dark outside. … I feel like they let a lot of things unfold in Ferguson.”