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Protesters listen to the announcement of the grand jury decision Monday, Nov. 24, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo.
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Some local leaders in Chattanooga were not surprised by the grand jury decision not to indict officer Darren Wilson for the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.

Ash-Lee Henderson, an organizer for Chattanooga's Concerned Citizens for Justice, said the verdict was not a surprise.

"I don't think we had any expectations, whether there was an indictment or not, that there would be justice for Mike Brown," she said.

She said that one of the messages from all of this is, "It's OK, you can get away with murder as long as it's a black person."

"Understandably people are furious and hurt and scared for their loved ones across the country ... but definitely right here in Chattanooga," she said, regarding the greater meaning of the verdict.

Elenora Woods, head of the Chattanooga-Hamilton County NAACP chapter, said the events in Ferguson are an example of the violence that can occur anywhere between police and black citizens, especially.

"We all need to be on alert nationwide," she said. "Because there was a 12-year-old boy who was shot yesterday in Ohio by a police officer because he had a toy gun. There are too many incidences of our black children being gunned down now by police officers."

Henderson said Citizens for Justice leaders are organizing a meeting today at 5:30 p.m. in Miller Park. They're encouraging people to bring items to memorialize any loved ones who have been victims of state violence of any kind.

She also said they encourage people who want to help change the system to come out in support.

"It's one thing to pray about this stuff and talk about wanting to change it," she said, "but we need people to actually go out and do it."

Contact staff writer Hannah Smith at or at 423-757-6731.

Contact staff writer Louie Brogdon at or 423-757-6481.