Ferguson, Mo. plans an alternate Halloween for trick-or-treaters

The announcement of a free pumpkin walk to replace Halloween trick-or-treating coincides with new forensic revelations that, if true, could spark more widespread civil unrest in the community.

Shannon Stapleton/Reuters/File
A sign is seen in the front yard of a home in Ferguson, Mo., October 14, 2014. More than 50 people were arrested in a series of peaceful rolling protests in the St. Louis area, staged to draw attention to police violence more than two months after a white officer killed an unarmed black teenager in a local suburb.

Concerns over longstanding protests following the police shooting in Ferguson have prompted plans for an alternative to the Halloween tradition of trick-or-treating in the St. Louis suburb.

A civic group has planned an alternative Halloween celebration to take place five days before the actual holiday, according to the Associated Press.

KSDK-TV reports that the group, I Love Ferguson, has scheduled a pumpkin walk on Sunday afternoon in the Old East Ferguson neighborhood. The city has been the scene of frequent and sometimes violent protests since the Aug. 9 death of Michael Brown who was shot by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson.

Former Ferguson mayor Brian Fletcher, the group’s chairman, said parents asked him to organize an activity that would replace trick-or-treating for families who didn’t want their children to walk outside after dark, or to even open their doors to strangers.

“I think that nobody would harm our children, but I can’t change the way people feel, and so I came up with an alternative,” Fletcher told KSDK-TV.

The announcement coincides with new forensic evidence that could back Mr. Wilson’s claim that he feared for his life and struggled with Brown inside his cruiser, where two shots were fired, the Monitor reported.

The new discoveries, if true, could reduce the chance of Wilson being indicted on federal civil rights violations and influence whether a grand jury currently meeting decides there is probable cause to put him in front of a jury.

In light of these revelations, protesters have continued to call for Wilson’s arrest, and some groups have threatened broader mayhem if he is cleared of wrongdoing. Law enforcement officials said they are preparing for civil unrest as the grand jury investigation expects to wrap up and make an announcement in mid-November.

The free pumpkin walk is set for Oct. 26, from 1 to 4 p.m., and participating houses will get a special sign to place in their yards. Several local churches plan to help, and Fletcher is asking for volunteers to donate candy and walk with children.

Fletcher said the event will create a safe environment and some normalcy in a community still healing.

“I know the character of our residents here in Ferguson. And I know they want to help our children have as normal a life during this process as possible,” Fletcher said.

Natalie Dubose, mother of two, was questioning her family’s Halloween plans this year.

“To be honest, I wasn't going to do the trick or treat thing this year with them,” Dubose told KSDK-TV. “Because you just never know. Everything is just so, kind of unknown right now. You just never know.”

She plans on attending the I Love Ferguson event.

“I'm just grateful everyone is willing to move beyond that fear, because I'm moving beyond it,” Dubose said. “I’ve cried many a day, I've been afraid here and there as well, but once again, there’s a determination within my spirit that I have to make this work.”

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