FERGUSON, Mo., Nov. 13 (UPI) -- As Ferguson anxiously awaits a grand jury's decision on whether to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown Jr. and the city prepares for protests either way, a lawyer for Brown's family called for calm and peace from police and the public.
Speaking at a press conference Thursday, Benjamin Crump and his associate, Anthony Gray, joined Gov. Jay Nixon in encouraging everyone to keep their cool when the jury announces their decision -- expected as early as this weekend.
"Regardless of the decision of the grand jury, it will be a defining moment in the history of Missouri," Crump said, speaking in front of the St. Louis County Justice Center where jurors are currently hearing testimony from Michael Baden, a private pathologist hired by the Brown family to conduct an independent post-mortem examination of the teen's corpse.
Fear of Fallout
Civilian organizations and police alike have been both preparing for the possibility that protests may once again turn violent and publicly advocating for peace.
On Tuesday, Gov. Jay Nixon announced that the National Guard would be standing by, prepared to respond in the event of civil unrest.
"This is America. People have the right to express views and grievances, but they do not have the right to put fellow citizens and property at risk. Violence will not be tolerated," he said.
Community organizers and activists, however, expressed concerns that law enforcement officers are responsible for inciting violence.
The Justice Department has been investigating Brown's death and the Ferguson Police Department, and Attorney General Eric Holder, who's expressed concerns of police tactics used during protests, asked officials "to de-escalate tensions and respect the rights of protesters" while making clear "that any acts of violence by the demonstrators, or other attempts to provoke law enforcement, are unacceptable."
Preparing for Protest
On West Florissant Avenue, store windows are boarded up. Church leaders in the city have spent thousands preparing safe spaces where the public might seek refuge if protests or demonstrations go the way they've gone before in Ferguson -- with tear gas and Tasers, riot gear and rubber bullets, armored vehicles and vandalism.
"Those sanctuary spaces are being stocked with supplies and food for those who will be protesting in the streets, to come and find refuge and safety, if that becomes necessary," Dietra Wise Baker of Liberation Christian Church told St. Louis Public Radio.
While the church spent thousands, the city also spent significant funds provisioning for protests to get out of hand: $122,668.96 to replenish tactical stock -- including pepper balls, sock rounds, and tear gas canisters -- and purchase additional riot gear, and $50,000 to repair vehicles. Pause for Peace
Meanwhile, Brown's parents, Lesley McSpadden and Michael Brown Sr., testified before a United Nations Committee against Torture on Tuesday.
A written statement prepared because their testimony was not public, argued their son's shooting and the force used by police in the resulting protests violated the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and called for an end to "racial profiling and racially-biased police harassment."
The document, along with calling for the indictment of Wilson, asks for regulations and guidelines on the use of force and advocates for a federal investigation into "systematic police brutality and harassment in black and brown communities."
Speaking to CNN in Geneva, Switzerland about her desire for justice and her hopes for how things will play out back home, McSpadden said she'd like to see people on the ground in Ferguson remain peaceful.
"Once again, we just want peaceful protests ... only positive things. Pause, plan and prepare. We don't want anyone ... acting before thinking, because it wouldn't serve us any purpose. It wouldn't do us any good."