Police form a line opposite of protesters in front of the police station on Nov. 19, 2014.
Huy Mach—St. Louis Post-Dispatch/Polaris
By Justin Worland
November 21, 2014

The family of the unarmed black teenager whose shooting death at the hands of a white police officer sparked violent protests in Ferguson, Mo., earlier this year appealed for calm Friday as a grand jury nears its decision on whether or not to charge the officer.

“They do not advocate any violence, any looting, any rioting,” Anthony Gray, an attorney for Michael Brown’s family, said during a news conference. The family called on Ferguson residents to keep their protests peaceful regardless of whether or not the grand jury charges Officer Darren Wilson in Brown’s death.

Ferguson has been on edge ahead of the grand jury’s decision, which is expected to come in a matter of days if not sooner, with sporadic protests breaking out and isolated arrests.

Brown’s family members aren’t the only ones calling for calm as the St. Louis County grand jury deliberates. Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon declared a preemptive state of emergency Tuesday, and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder made a plea for any protests to be peaceful in a video Friday.

“History has also shown that the most successful and enduring movements for change are those that adhere to nonaggression and non-violence,” Holder said. “I ask all those who seek to lend their voices to important causes and discussions and seek to elevate these vital conversations… to do so in a way that respects the gravity of their subject matter.”

Write to Justin Worland at justin.worland@time.com.

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