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'Same Old Story': Seattle Reacts To Ferguson Decision

A protester in Seattle holds a sign depicting Michael Brown, who was shot by St. Louis police officer Darren Wilson. A grand jury declined to indict the officer for Brown’s death on Monday, November 24, 2014.
Flickr Photo/Tiffany Von Arnim (CC-BY-NC-ND)
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A protester in Seattle holds a sign depicting Michael Brown, who was shot by St. Louis police officer Darren Wilson. A grand jury declined to indict the officer for Brown’s death on Monday.";

Chanting "Black lives matter," hundreds of people marched through Seattle last night to protest a Missouri grand jury's decision to not indict a white police officer who fatally shot 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson earlier this year.

Among them was 23-year-old Marissa Johnson. Johnson is black and she said the news from Ferguson has some personal meaning for her and her family.

"You know every time one of these things happens, I have to call one of my two younger brothers who are teenagers,” she said, choking up. “And I have to have a serious conversation with them about how they are in the world and I fear for their lives a lot."

Dive into Ferguson coverage from NPR and St. Louis Public Radio:
Ferguson Documents: How The Grand Jury Reached A Decision
Ferguson Documents: What The Witnesses Saw
Ferguson Documents: Officer Darren Wilson's Testimony
Evidence released, including Grand Jury testimony (St. Louis Public Radio)

The protests started out largely peaceful. But as the night went on, Seattle police say some people threw bottles and rocks at officers.

http://youtu.be/mGEFC6j9XC4

"Why did you call this man a felon, officer?" Seattle protesters clash with police. Video by KUOW's Liz Jones.

At least five people were arrested.

Others took a different tack. At Garfield Community Center, concerned citizens gathered to voice their frustration. Reverend Harriet Walden of Mothers for Police Accountability came up with the idea as part of a rapid response plan for the city.

“Young people get caught up in the moment, and everybody out there is not for their best good. There’s a lot of provocateurs out there,” she said. “We’ve been around for 25 years and we’ve never broken a window, and we’ve never gone to jail and so there’s another way and we like to introduce that.”

Similar meetings were held in other Seattle neighborhoods. Police were also invited to take part, and to answer questions from the public. Mariah Marshall came with her son to watch the announcement on TV.

“He’s 10, and he’s going to be black man one day,” Marshall says. “And to me, it’s like a danger to be a black man, just because of all these things that are happening. I’m looking at my son, and I want him to be aware this is what’s going on.”

Marshall says she’s baffled by the Ferguson jury’s decision. She wasn’t alone. At the meeting, people voiced their sadness, anger, and disappointment.

But the meeting was also a forum for hope. There were young people in attendance, most of them 7th and 8th graders. They envisioned a community where the people value equality, people who are loving and caring toward each other.

One young girl challenged the adults to lead by example because, she said, “We’re looking up to you guys.”

Reporting by KUOW's Ruby de Luna and Liz Jones.