The American's with Charle LeDuff: Ferguson braces for grand jury decision in death of Michael Brown

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Tension is growing as the nation awaits a grand jury decision whether to indict a white police officer who shot and killed unarmed 18-year-old African-American Michael Brown.

The Americans With Charlie LeDuff is back in Ferguson where both police and protesters are gearing up for what may come.
Play the video in the player to hear Charlie explain his sense of the tension in Ferguson and how he thinks the media is mainly there to watch for a riot.  Subscribe to The Americans with Charlie LeDuff on YouTube to get more from Ferguson, Missouri, including live reports.

Some state and local leaders believe the grand jury's decision on white police officer Darren Wilson may happen is days away, but others believe the timetable is weeks away.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has declared a state of emergency, the National Guard is on alert and the FBI is warning about outside elements, which could cause trouble for law enforcement. Both the Ku Klux Klan and black militants have also chimed in.

It's quiet but tense Tuesday evening as west side businesses, hit hardest by rioting in the past, are boarded up but still open.

Business owners say they are worried, but anticipate if anything does happen, it will likely take place on the east side of the city, the white section, LeDuff said.

Nixon said Tuesday at a press conference that everyone should know more in the next couple of days, but quickly corrected himself and said in the next "couple of weeks," LeDuff said.

The grand jury convenes on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Last Thursday they were said to have heard their last witness. LeDuff has learned that there is one more witness they will interview Wednesday. 

At the earliest the decision may be announced Wednesday night, Thursday or possibly on the weekend when children will be home from school. 

Tuesday Nixon swore in members of the Ferguson Commission, created a month ago to study social and economic conditions. 

LeDuff asked Nixon why he created it and "what are black people angry about?"

Nixon said, equity, jobs, schools, all the things America is talking about, LeDuff said.

"We're talking about the National Guard here," LeDuff said. "We're talking about the FBI giving warnings, we're talking about the Black Panthers. It seems like Missouri's never had the reckoning that the rest of the country had."

Warnings have been issued for outside elements now in Ferguson which could spark trouble. 

LeDuff was across the street from Sam's Meat Market and More where in August he was set upon by looters from out of town.

"There is no way to anticipate what outsiders are going to do," LeDuff said. "There are many protest groups who have put out bulletins of how to behave, how to keep it peaceful.

"It's about more than just a liquor bottle and a piece of meat now. There's people thinking about their lives and where they live and how they feel."

"They're going to bring it possibly to Ferguson, possibly St. Louis. I don't know what's going to go down. I'm hoping we're beyond that." 

LeDuff said that plenty of guns are being sold and he spoke to a business owner who said he was ready.


"'If that's what it's going to be,'" LeDuff said the man told him, "'Then I'm going to sit here with a pistol and a shotgun. Anyone who opens that door, I'm going to blast them.'


"That's the temperature. You just figure it's 2014 and we might have come a little bit farther. But race and class is a prickly thing in America and we're going to have to live through and do the best we can."