FERGUSON • Police already tense from a series of violent confrontations have turned to 12-hour shifts and limits on vacations as they face a new challenge of potentially hostile protests that may blanket the region this weekend.
Effective Thursday, St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson began requiring that two officers answer every call, even for a parking violation.
St. Louis County officers and Missouri Highway Patrol troopers also are on 12-hour shifts. Ferguson has all its officers working through Monday.
The immediate concern is a national invitation that could bring protesters by the thousands to the area to vent frustrations stoked by the Aug. 9 killing by white Ferguson Officer Darren Wilson of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown.
A march to St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch’s office today will kick off days of marches, rallies and civil disobedience planned by organizers who demand action on behalf of Brown and others they say struggle against racial profiling and police violence.
Mervyn Marcano, a spokesman for Ferguson October: A Weekend of Resistance, said he expects 6,000 to 10,000 people at attend.
“I’m coming to Ferguson because repentance has not happened there yet,” said the Rev. Jim Wallis, founder of the Christian magazine Sojourners and a spiritual adviser to President Barack Obama. He is one of the key speakers at Sunday night’s interfaith event at St. Louis University’s Chaifetz Arena.
Wallis said from his base in Washington: “What is very clear is black lives just are worthless in America.”
On the Ferguson October website, people are seeking or offering rides to the area from as far away as Massachusetts, Florida and California. The site is brokering free lodging and information about hotels, mainly in downtown St. Louis and Clayton.