Police departments around the country are on edge and planning as if Ferguson Police officer Darren Wilson has not been charged with the murder of unarmed teen Michael Brown on Aug. 9.
Atlanta metropolitan area, which is almost 600 miles away from the epicenter of this controversy, is nevertheless planning for what could possibly go down after the decision of the St. Louis County grand jury is read before the nation.
The decision is expected to be revealed on Friday.
The higher ups of multiple police jurisdictions in and around Atlanta and Fulton County met Thursday afternoon to discuss the multiplicity of protests have already been planned around the country, including in metro Atlanta.
“There are going to be people who come out and voice their opinions and exercise their first amendment rights,” Officer John Chafee told WXIA-TV. “And of course we would welcome anyone that’s peacefully protesting. We’re going to allow them to do that, but we’re also prepared for those who may not want to be peaceful.”
Officials with Atlanta, Marietta and DeKalb County police departments were joined by the Georgia State Patrol, Emory and Georgia State universities and Morehouse College at the DeKalb County Board of Education offices in Stone Mountain.
“The meeting will address how individual entities are planning for incidents that may occur as a result of the [grand jury] decision,” DeKalb police spokeswoman Mekka Parish said in a media release Wednesday. “In addition, the briefing will review how the region is collaborating to ensure metro Atlanta communities remain safe and are not negatively impacted by events that may unfold in Ferguson.”
Dr. Cedric Alexander, DeKalb’s Deputy Chief Operating Officer of Public Safety who is also the president of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, traveled to Ferguson in August to help ease tensions during unrest that unfolded in the wake of Brown’s shooting.
Officer John Chafee said “we certainly anticipate that citizens will want to express their First Amendment rights concerning the grand jury decision, and will respect their right to peaceably assemble,” Chafee said in an emailed statement. “We will not, however, tolerate those who violate our laws, destroy property or endanger lives.”
Underground Atlanta is one of the places where people are expected to gather, according to a group called Ferguson National Response Network. Kennesaw has also been on the list, according to police.
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon had already declared a state of emergency earlier this week and put the National Guard in Missouri on notice.