Officer Darren Wilson resigns from Ferguson police department

The white police officer whose shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown provoked nationwide protests, has stepped down from his position on the Ferguson, Mo. police department six days after a grand jury declined to charge him with a crime.

Ferguson officials planned to address the resignation of a white police officer who fatally shot 18-year-old Michael Brown, a black resident of the St. Louis suburb whose parents on Sunday prepared to attend a church service where civil rights activist the Rev. Al Sharpton was scheduled to preach.

On Monday night, prosecutors announced that a grand jury declined to indict Officer Darren Wilson, stoking racial tensions that led to looting and violence in the predominantly black St. Louis suburb of 20,000 residents, while also leading to weeklong protests nationwide.

Wilson, who had been on administrative leave since the Aug. 9 shooting, resigned Saturday, effective immediately, according to his lawyer, Neil Bruntrager, who declined further comment. An attorney for Brown's family didn't immediately return messages seeking comment.

Wilson, who had been with the Ferguson Police Department for less than three years, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch he decided to step down after the department told him it had received threats of violence if he remained on the force.

"I'm not willing to let someone else get hurt because of me," Wilson told the newspaper Saturday.

Ferguson officials planned to make a statement on Wilson's resignation Sunday, said Stephanie Karr, city attorney for Ferguson. Karr earlier this week said Wilson had been on paid leave pending the outcome of an internal police investigation.

"We were not after Wilson's job," Sharpton, who planned to preach Sunday at the St. Louis church where Brown's funeral was held, added later in a written statement. "We were after Michael Brown's justice."

Brown's parents were set to attend the Sunday service with Sharpton.

On Saturday night, more than 100 protesters gathered near police headquarters, where they were outnumbered by officers, following the news. At least one person was arrested after a brief standoff with officers, while others wearing white masks sat in a nearby street blocking traffic. Another protester burned an American flag. By midnight, only about two dozen protesters remained.

But many seemed unfazed by the resignation. Several merely shrugged their shoulders when asked what they thought, while Rick Campbell flatly said he didn't care about the resignation, noting: "I've been protesting out here since August."

Brown, who was black, was unarmed when Wilson, who is white, fatally shot him in the middle of a Ferguson street, where his body was left for several hours as police investigated and angry onlookers gathered.

Some witnesses have said Brown had his hands up when Wilson shot him. Wilson told the grand jury that he feared for his life when Brown hit him and reached for his gun.

The U.S. Justice Department also is conducting a civil rights investigation into the shooting and a separate investigation of police department practices.

Away from the protests Saturday night, resident Victoria Rutherford said she believed Wilson should have not only resigned, but been convicted of a crime.

"I'm upset. I have a 16-year-old son. It could've been him. I feel that he was absolutely in the wrong," she said.

Another resident, Reed Voorhees, said he hoped Wilson could find similar work "someplace where he would enjoy life, and move on with his life."

In the days after the shooting, tense and sometimes violent protests popped up in and around Ferguson, a predominantly black community patrolled by a mostly white police force. Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon called in the National Guard to help.

Following Monday night's announcement that the grand jury would not indict Wilson, at least a dozen commercial buildings were destroyed in Ferguson and neighboring Dellwood, mostly along West Florissant Avenue, not far from where Brown was killed. By Tuesday, Nixon had sent more than 2,200 National Guard members to the Ferguson area to support local law enforcement.

Though protests calmed significantly, more than 100 people have been arrested since Monday, including 16 at a protest Friday night outside the Ferguson police station. Portland, Oregon police said 10 people were arrested Saturday night "after a large group of protesters laid down in the street and refused lawful orders to clear the roadway." The nine adults and one juvenile arrested will face charges that include disorderly conduct.

Demonstrations, which also have been held other U.S. cities, are expected to continue, though a sense of normalcy — or at least a new normal — has begun to settle on the city.

Police earlier Saturday reopened several blocks of West Florissant that had been barricaded off since Tuesday. Although most store windows were still boarded up, many have been decorated or spray-painted with messages saying the stores are open and welcoming shoppers.

Some business owners spent an unseasonably warm day tidying up, hoping customers soon would return.

Tracy Ballard, 44, brought her 7-year-old daughter to a store on West Florissant to buy candy and soda, before a trip to the beautician up the street.

"I feel sad for the business owners," Ballard said. "It's really sad it had to come from this. We just wanted justice. If we'd have had justice, none of this would have happened."

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.