(San Francisco, CA, November 24, 2014)—Today, a Ferguson grand jury decided not to bring criminal charges against Darren Wilson, the white police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, this summer in Ferguson, Missouri.
The decision comes after months of deliberation where a grand jury was impaneled to consider possible criminal charges ranging from involuntary manslaughter to first-degree murder. The facts surrounding the shooting have been the subject of debate, but it is beyond dispute that Brown was unarmed, and several witness accounts state that Wilson shot Brown while he had his hands raised in surrender.
“We vacillate between heartbreak and outrage at the decision from the grand jury. Injustice is too tame a word for what today’s decision represents. The fact that an unarmed black youth can be fatally shot by a police officer with no accountability or consequence is a chilling commentary on the worth afforded to young, black lives and the sorry state of racial justice in this country,” said Kate Kendell, Executive Director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights.
“We stand with our colleagues in the broader civil rights community in condemning the grand jury decision, and send our strength and support to the family and friends of Michael Brown and the entire Ferguson community as they continue to grieve their tragic loss. We also urge the Department of Justice to take action to address the longstanding history of racialized intimidation and discrimination by the Ferguson police,” Kendell concluded.
While the jury deliberated, Ferguson and the surrounding area have become a flashpoint for racial tension and unrest in reaction to the tragic shooting. Ferguson, which is predominantly black, has a police force that is predominantly white. The shooting has reignited an intense debate about law enforcement and race in this country. Citizen protests have been met by accusations of “rioting” and other racially charged descriptions, while a heavily armed police force has transformed Ferguson into a police state.