A St. Louis alderman is asking Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon to deploy at least “400 trauma counselors and mental health professionals,” to help the city’s residents who are suffering “tension, anxiety and fear,” because of the pending grand jury verdict on the shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown.
Antonio French, a St. Louis Board member who had been providing frequent updates about the protests and police action in Ferguson, Mo., the St. Louis suburb where the shooting occurred, wrote an open letter to Nixon:
In light of the events of the past few months in the St. Louis area and the trauma suffered by so many people, including children, it has become painfully apparent that St. Louis urgently needs support for the post-traumatic stress this community is enduring.
He goes on to say that fear has become the main emotion, “resulting from statements from government officials calling for :”a State of Emergency,:” suggesting we are at ‘precipice of pandemonium and urging to citizens to stock up on food and water before the grand jury announcement.”
He says that repeated incidents of “tear gas deployment on citizens and pointing of weapons at unarmed citizens,” is causing increased trauma.
Also Wednesday, the Rev. Al Sharpton said he is “on high alert” and planning non-violent demonstrations as the nation awaits the decision.
The National Action Network — Sharpton’s civil rights group –has pledged to help Brown’s family when the decision is announced, he said at news conference.
On Monday, Nixon activated the National Guard and declared a state of emergency in preparation for possible fallout to a grand jury decision.
Tensions are high in the St. Louis area. Demonstrators expect news that Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, who is white, will not be charged in the Aug. 9 shooting of Brown, who was black.
The grand jury decision could be announced within days.
Brown’s death sparked weeks of protests. Heavily armed police used tear gas and pointed guns at protesters. Brown’s death reignited a national conversation over the treatment of African Americans by law enforcement.