FERGUSON, Mo. (NBCNC) — Things are changing Wednesday morning in Ferguson, Mo. Overnight, there were more protests — but without the violence we’ve seen for more than a week in the St. Louis suburb. And we could learn a lot more on Wednesday about the ongoing criminal and civil rights investigations into the police shooting of an unarmed teenager.
Wednesday could be one of the most pivotal we’ve seen since Michael Brown was shot and killed. A grand jury will hear preliminary evidence in the case. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder will visit Ferguson as the civil rights investigation continues, and it all happens after one of the most peaceful nights here in more than a week.
“It’s a great difference, and I’m just glad to see this: more peace, more stillness, more calmness,” said Elder Jason Watts, with Church of God in Christ.
Protesters still marched, and there were a few tense moments and dozens of arrests.
“Tonight, the elders in this community, volunteers, activist, clergy walked and talked with people and urged common peace,” said Missouri State Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson.
But for the first time in more than a week, there was no tear gas and no chaos. Officers in riot gear did line the streets, but for the most part, this community policed itself.
“This has been a beautiful night; give yourself a round of applause,” said an unidentified protester. “The people have spoken; the people have spoken.”
Holder plans to speak with community leaders, federal agents and prosecutors when he visits Ferguson later Wednesday morning. He’s promised the “full resources” of his office during a “fair and independent” civil rights investigation there.
The local criminal investigation is moving forward as well. A St. Louis grand jury will begin to hear evidence in the case Wednesday. The prosecutor’s office has confirmed that the officer involved in the shooting, Darren Wilson, has been interviewed by investigators and will have the chance, if he chooses, to testify before the grand jury at some point during the process — a process this community and much of the country is watching very closely.
Rev. Al Sharpton will deliver the eulogy at Michael Brown’s funeral, which happens on Monday.