Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency Monday afternoon as the city of Ferguson, Missouri awaits a grand jury decision in the case of the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by local police officer Darren Wilson.
And despite dozens of demonstrators gathering outside the courthouse in Clayton, Missouri, and local businesses boarding up their storefronts in anticipation of potential violence, Ferguson residents insist the tension throughout the community isn’t as tense as it may appear in various media reports.
“That’s going to be anyone’s feeling towards anything that’s been publicized like this, because of the stuff that has happened in the beginning,” Ferguson Connection member Bassem Masri admitted today to HuffPost Live host Marc Lamont Hill. “But you gotta really look at what we’ve done since the beginning to prevent that type of stuff. We’ve really took the steps on our side to prevent everything, but we don’t know what they’re doing.”
“Everything has really been a response to police…Really in essence, as long as people can just keep their emotions in check… and when the violence comes out, you don’t want to get in the middle of that stuff if anything like that happens, but no one’s trying to make that type of effort at all. It’s tense, but it’s not like that. Not at all.”
Pastor Renita Lamkin of St. John African Methodist Episcopal Church, underscored Masri’s comments on how the city is dealing with racial and community tension.
“People are nervous, people are anxious. Mostly we’re ready to just move to the next phase of healing and community empowerment,” she said. “And we cannot do that with this decision just hanging out there. So we’re very much looking forward to this decision being announced and letting whatever’s going to happen, happen.”
“It is tense, but I agree with Bassem, people are not talking violence and are not planning violence. And it’s very much a community who’s ready to move forward.”
Check out more of Pastor Renita Lamkin and Bassem Masri’s thoughts on the rising tensions in Ferguson in the clip above.