Philly Police, Activists Prepare for Ferguson Reaction

All eyes are on a grand jury in the St. Louis suburb.

Matt Rourke/AP

Matt Rourke/AP

Over the summer, the nation’s attention focused on Ferguson, Missouri, for several weeks as protesters clashed with cops in the aftermath of the shooting of an unarmed black man, Michael Brown, by a police officer. Now officials in Missouri are bracing for the results of a grand jury — whether the officer will be indicted for the shooting — and police departments nationwide are preparing for possible protests in their own cities.

Philadelphia is no exception.

KYW reports that the Civil Affairs Unit of the Philly Police Department has been coordinating with activist groups to prevent any reaction from turning “negative.”

There’s been outreach with groups that will or may be involved in demonstrations, but Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey says he doesn’t expect it to turn negative:

“Of course there is always the possibility of some people with a different agenda that may show up, but they would certainly be in the minority. The majority of people who are concerned about what is going on there, simply want to exercise their first amendment rights, and our job is to see to it that they have the ability to do so in a very peaceful way.”

NewsWorks reports that local activists are wrestling with generational differences, and talked to James Peterson, director of the department of Africana Studies at Lehigh University.

Peterson said that older civil rights leaders were booed during protests in October (dubbed #FergusonOctober), showing what he called “seismic generational tensions” as young people “seize the mic.”

“I think what gets called generational tension … has to do with internal divisions within the African-American community about what propriety looks like,” said Pastor Leslie Callahan of St. Paul’s Baptist Church in Philadelphia who marched in Ferguson. “My perspective, as a middle-aged person, is that the young people are completely right to reject the idea that a tie is necessary to make black people human.”

Philadelphia rallies are planned for the day of and day after the Ferguson decision.