What we know about Ferguson

By By Greg Botelho and Ben Brumfield CNN
Published On: Aug 20 2014 06:28:46 AM EDT
Updated On: Aug 20 2014 10:52:45 PM EDT

A grand jury is set to decide on whether or not to charge a Ferguson officer of shooting Michael Brown.

(CNN) -

Events continue to unfold at a rapid pace in Ferguson, Missouri. The city has been in turmoil since August 9, when white city police officer Darren Wilson fatally shot Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager.

Protesters and law enforcement officers have clashed in the streets for several nights.

Here are the latest developments for Wednesday:

Officer Wilson's backers confronted

Two supporters of Darren Wilson took to the streets of Ferguson on Wednesday evening, saying they wanted to express their views just like those calling for Wilson's arrest.

They quickly had company, as dozens of Brown family backers quickly converged on them -- some of them angrily confronting them.

The commotion ended quickly, however, when police came and took the two Wilson backers away.

Soon thereafter, strong thunderstorms rolled through the area and put a damper on the protests.

Officer suspended after threatening protester

A police officer was "relieved of duty and suspended indefinitely" Wednesday after pointing a semi-automatic assault rifle at a "peaceful" protester in Ferguson, St. Louis County police said.

Video showed the officer using vulgarity to threaten a protester, as the pointed his rifle at the protester. The officer -- from nearby St. Ann, one of many communities who have contributed officers to the force charged with keeping the peace in Ferguson -- was soon thereafter led away by a St. Louis County police sergeant.

Capt. Ron Johnson of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, who is heading security in Ferguson, said he was "disturbed" by the video, adding that the officer's actions "disrespect" those officers who have shown restraint over the past two weeks.

Attorney General Holder visits Ferguson

The nation's top federal law enforcement official, Eric Holder, paid a visit Wednesday to Ferguson -- talking with community leaders, students, and the parents of Michael Brown.

The U.S. Justice Department, which Holder heads, is conducting a civil rights investigation into Brown's shooting. Dozens of FBI agents have interviewed witnesses. Authorities would have to prove some element of "racial hostility" to convict Wilson on a civil rights charge, CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin notes.

Holder met with and complimented Johnson of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, and also addressed students at a local community college. Holder he talked about his own experiences as a black man dealing with racial profiling as he told those in the crowd, "I understand that mistrust" of police.

Prosecutor: Grand jury won't be done for months

St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch told CNN affiliate KMOV that his office would begin presenting its case on this matter to a grand jury on Wednesday. But the end is still far off: McCulloch estimated his office won't be done presenting evidence until mid-October.

Many Brown family supporters have asked that McCulloch be taken off the case, with St. Louis Alderman Antonio French saying that his "relationship with the African-American community has not been good for a long time."

Yet McCulloch has shown no sign of leaving his post. Gov. Jay Nixon could decide to appoint a special prosecutor in his place, but he hasn't given any indication he'll do so.

In fact, McCulloch went on the offensive after Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon tried to deflect calls for the prosecutor's ouster by saying it was up to the prosecutor to recuse himself.

PREVIOUS DEVELOPMENTS:

Violence but no looting, no tear gas

As midnight approached late Tuesday, it looked like protesters and police had managed to pull off a night of peace, but officers donned riot gear and formed a line in front of local businesses, commanding a crowd in a parking lot to clear out.

A bottle flew at the officers, setting off a powder keg of tensions, with police sprinting after and arresting people and more bottles flying at them -- some plastic, some glass.

Highway patrol Capt. Ron Johnson told journalists that "criminals" had also thrown urine on police. Riot police presence ballooned, dogs and pepper spray came out briefly, and officers arrested 47 people.

Two guns were confiscated from a car.

But gone were the tear gas, rubber bullets, and Molotov cocktails that had marred protests overnight Monday.

Michael Brown's family:

Brown's mother, Lesley McSpadden, told NBC's "Today" show that the only way to end the unrest is "justice" -- which her family and their supporters have repeatedly tied to the arrest of the police officer who killed Brown.

"Justice will bring peace, I believe," McSpadden said.

The family's attorney, Benjamin Crump, also announced that Brown's funeral will be held Monday.

The police officer:

Darren Wilson, 28, who has six years on the force with no disciplinary issues on his record, is on paid administrative leave. If he returns to duty, he would have to undergo two psychological evaluations, authorities said.

Wilson has garnered more and more public support in recent days. That includes a rally held for him in St. Louis and a fundraising effort that had raised more than $36,000 from nearly 1,000 people as of Tuesday.

School closures:

The situation remains so unstable that the Ferguson-Florissant School District said it is canceling classes for the rest of the week. Two nearby districts -- Jennings and Riverview Gardens -- opted to remain closed again Tuesday as well, according to CNN affiliate KMOV.

In light of the closure, the Ferguson-Florissant School District is offering food assistance -- in the form of sack lunches -- to children and teenagers at five elementary schools between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

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