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Ferguson Protesters Anxiously Await Grand Jury Decision


And now let's bring in NPR's Shereen Meraji. She's outside the police station in Ferguson where protesters have been gathering throughout the evening. Shereen, describe the scene right now.

SHEREEN MARISOL MERAJI, BYLINE: Hey, Ari. There is a formidable crowd here. I'm standing right now in the parking lot of a tire and wheel store, and in front of me is a pretty big crowd of protesters with signs, and there's a barricade in front of them separating the protesters from, oh, a good two dozen police. There's police in riot gear. There's St. Louis County police. There's Ferguson police. So we've got protesters, barricades, and on the other side of the barricades are police. And protesters are yelling in their bullhorn, black lives matter. Come out from behind the gates and stand with us. And there's some tension in the air.

SHAPIRO: The crowd has been growing all evening. We are now at the moment that we expect to hear from the grand jury. Have things changed as we approach this crucial hour of the night?

MERAJI: Actually, yes they have. There's some hip-hop in the background right now. That was not happening earlier. And a lot of the chanting actually ahs died down a little bit. It seems like people are just waiting to hear exactly what the decision is so they can make their next move, whatever that may be.

SHAPIRO: And Shereen, we've heard from the mayor of St. Louis, the governor of Missouri - what do you hear from the protesters? Are they urging peace, defiance - what's their sentiment?

MERAJI: Well, first of all, so many of the people I talked to in this crowd told me we know what's up. We know what's going on. There isn't going to be an indictment, and we're out here to say that's not fair and we want real justice. So that's what I've heard from almost everybody that I've talked to out in this crowd. They're saying they're going to be peaceful. Everyone that I've talked to says they're going to be peaceful. They're worried about what law enforcement is going to do.


Shereen, we heard from the governor, as Ari mentioned. What's been the response from the protesters about the preparations leading into this? There's been such tremendous buildup.

MERAJI: Well, the feeling that I'm getting from the people that I've spoken to is why did this take so long? Why haven't we had an answer before this? And, you know - and also, we know why we haven't had an answer - because you're not going to indict. That's the feeling that I've been hearing, and that's why you have so much law enforcement out.

CORNISH: We want to remind people we are still awaiting news of what that decision from the grand jury will be. That's NPR's Shereen Meraji outside the police station in Ferguson. Shereen, thanks so much.

MERAJI: Thanks, Audie. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Shereen Marisol Meraji is the co-host and senior producer of NPR's Code Switch podcast. She didn't grow up listening to public radio in the back seat of her parent's car. She grew up in a Puerto Rican and Iranian home where no one spoke in hushed tones, and where the rhythms and cadences of life inspired her story pitches and storytelling style. She's an award-winning journalist and founding member of the pre-eminent podcast about race and identity in America, NPR's Code Switch. When she's not telling stories that help us better understand the people we share this planet with, she's dancing salsa, baking brownies or kicking around a soccer ball.