The African American Policy Forum
The stunning announcement that Darren Wilson will not face any charges in the shooting death of Michael Brown is a bitter disappointment not only to the immediate family of Michael Brown, but to all of those who value justice, police accountability and human rights. We are particularly disturbed by the actions of Robert McCulloch whose prosecutorial performance failed to instill confidence that the grand jury decision was fair. Indeed, the tenor and substance of the announcement revealed a process that functioned more as an indictment of Michael Brown than a determination of whether there was probable cause to try Darren Wilson for any crime. This defendant-friendly grand jury process underscores concerns that the criminal justice system poses insurmountable obstacles to real police accountability, while setting very low entry points that funnel so many people of color into prison.
We have been reminded that we are governed by the rule of law, yet the painful reality of Ferguson, and the longer history of white supremacy that proceeded it, is that legality does not necessarily guarantee justice. As Martin Luther King, Jr. observed, “law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice [but] when they fail in this purpose they [can] become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress.” In the pursuit of a just order, we must be frank in addressing how racism has shaped the law and the day-to-day lives of those who must live in fear under its shadow. If the national conversation that many are calling for is to move us toward justice, then the widespread tolerance and support for policies and practices that endanger the lives of Black people must be unequivocally condemned.
As the body count of men, women and children killed by police continues to mount, we know that justice requires more than an indictment in this case and in all the other tragedies that are unfolding. Our fight must be for a comprehensive racial justice agenda that ensures full systems reform. In addition to supporting actions in multiple arenas to ensure that this critical moment will not pass, please sign here to join the national coalition of civil rights organizations and individuals in demanding concrete reforms to reign in state violence.