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August 19, 2014

Avoiding danger


AUBURN | Jordon Granger was at home in Florissant, Mo., on the morning of Aug. 9.

He quickly realized this would be no ordinary day.

An unarmed, 18-year-old boy was killed by a police officer two miles from the Auburn forward's home that warm morning. The event touched off a series of protests and violent confrontations that have turned an otherwise standard St. Louis suburb into a war zone.

Granger, who will be a junior this season, ignored an impulse to take to the streets himself.

"If I had gone down there, I'd have been dealing with problems I don't want to have," Granger told AuburnSports.com during an interview Tuesday. "I came to Alabama to get away from St. Louis. I wanted to come to a quiet place like Auburn where it's peaceful."

Granger grew up in Florissant, a St. Louis suburb located just north of Ferguson, and spent his entire life in the area. Many of his friends live in Ferguson and have been involved in the protests that have pitted citizens against law enforcement every night.

He figured something like this would happen eventually. Tensions have been rising in the city for years, Granger said, and what once was unspoken disdain was becoming something more tangible when he left for Auburn in 2012.

"I don't condone the looting or the violence that's been going on in the community, but I do understand people who are fed up with the police brutality that's been going on in the area from unlawful officers," Granger said. "There are good officers, too, but there have been a couple situations that have people fed up. Ferguson has been good with me. It's been a good place."

Granger said he's been keeping up with the events via television and phone calls back home. In fact, he watched CNN coverage on Monday night from inside the Auburn locker room.

Yet when it's time to do something else, he turns his full attention elsewhere. There's nothing he can do from Auburn -- and that's all part of Granger's overall plan.

"I would love to protest, but I don't feel like that's my place," Granger said. "First of all, I don't know the guy who passed away. At the same time, I'm trying to do something at Auburn. I'm not trying to get caught up in politics like that. I'm glad I'm back in school. That way, I can't keep my mind on it all the time. I just want my family safe."

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