San Diego Reacts to Ferguson Grand Jury Decision - NBC 7 San Diego

San Diego Reacts to Ferguson Grand Jury Decision

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    NEWSLETTERS

    San Diegans Weigh in on Ferguson Grand Jury

    As a Missouri grand jury returned an eagerly awaited decision on the Ferguson shooting that sparked days of riots, a handful of San Diegans gathered to show their support for the protesters. NBC 7's Omari Fleming reports. (Published Monday, Nov. 24, 2014)

    Some San Diego residents are speaking out against the grand jury decision not to indict the Ferguson, Missouri police officer who shot teenager Michael Brown to death.

    The 12 grand jury members decided Monday that physical evidence showed Officer Darren Wilson should not be charged in the shooting death of 19-year-old Brown, despite witness accounts to the contrary.

    "It's ridiculous to believe that someone shot someone dead — had no reason to, he was unarmed, he wasn't posing any threat — and this person is not in jail awaiting a court date," said Kathy Mendonca, who gathered with a few others in City Heights in solidarity with hundreds taking to the streets of Ferguson.

    There, protests quickly devolved into violence, with people throwing rocks at police, setting cars and buildings on fire and stopping traffic on freeways.

    At least three local groups told NBC 7 they plan to gather Tuesday in San Diego to show their support for Ferguson protesters. George Lewis, who was hoping to see an indictment, said the failure to indict Wilson shows the lack of law enforcement accountability. 

    "Same old status quo. I mean, it's like no matter what they do, they get away with it and you don't really have any rights to stand up for yourself," said Lewis.

    Resident Paul Herstein said it's a bad situation whichever way you look at it.

    “Law enforcement has a terrible job in that they are trusted with life and death decisions made in a split second. It's difficult in retrospect to second guess,” said Herstein.

    Another person who spoke with NBC 7 said he feels for Brown's family, but an indictment would undermine officers' rights to defend themselves.

    On Aug. 9, Brown was on his way home from a convenience store with a friend when Officer Wilson shot the teenager multiple times. Brown had no criminal record, but it was later revealed that he was a suspect in a robbery allegedly committed before the shooting.

    Pastor Helps Hometown Await Ferguson Decision

    [DGO] City of Hope Pastor Helping Hometown Await Ferguson Decision
    A San Diego pastor who is from nearby St. Louis has been helping the community heal. NBC7' s Liberty Zabala reports on how the African-American community is preparing for the grand jury's decision.
    (Published Monday, Nov. 24, 2014)

    Wilson, 28, had patrolled the suburbs of St. Louis for six years, according to The Associated Press. Wilson's supporters have rallied, created Facebook pages and raised money for his family on GoFundMe.com.

    The Missouri town was the location of unrest and violence following the officer-involved shooting. Police fought back with tear gas and rubber bullets, prompting questions over the intimidating presence of security forces armed with military-grade gear and equipment.

    Demonstrators around the country, including in San Diego, have turned the "hands up, don't shoot" gesture into a rallying cry amid the protests.

    At the City of Hope Church in Lincoln Park, churchgoers were praying for peace Sunday.

    Pastor Terrell Fletcher was born in Ferguson and he views the grand jury decision as the biggest thing to happen in the lives of many young people in that community.

    Fletcher said he knows all too well the racial tensions back home.

    Though he comes from a law enforcement family, he knows what it's like to be mistreated by the police.

    “Wasn't arrested, just embarrassed,” he recalled. “We were pushed around a little bit, we were pushed around a little bit faced down put in handcuffs put in the middle of the front lawn the whole community came out to see is be a spectacle, questioned unmercifully then threatened and sent on our way."

    He's been meeting with young protesters, city leaders, law enforcement calling for calm as they brace for a decision.

    The conflict has also brought attention to allegations of racial profiling in a community where 92.7 percent of those arrested in 2013 were black, when they make up 63 percent of the city's population, according to a report by the Missouri Attorney General's Office

    The Ferguson Police Department has 53 officers, three of whom are black.