Police commanders are expecting a peaceful weekend — and demonstrators are promising it. But authorities said Monday they would be prepared if the observance of the first anniversary of the controversial death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., turned violent, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
An organizer for a series of events characterized them at a press conference Monday as mainly "family-friendly, open to the public and free of charge.
"The events we have planned this weekend are intended to show the strength of community, the value of self-empowerment and the power of the people," said Nabeehah Azeez, of Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment.
Last year, police — confronted with taunts and thrown objects amid a backdrop of gunfire — used tear gas, armored vehicles, flash-bangs and other devices at times to control crowds protesting Brown's death. The tactics drew criticism from the Department of Justice and others.
St. Louis County police Chief Jon Belmar said Monday that his priorities were to protect life, property, and the expression of First Amendment rights, in that order.
"If nothing happens, there will be no reason to stage officers and equipment," he said. "All of our activity will be predicated on that."