Standing with the Family of Michael Brown
November 25, 2014
We were saddened and outraged by the announcement last night that the Grand Jury has decided not to charge Darren Wilson for killing Michael Brown. In this time of tremendous pain, the US Human Rights Network (in which Woodhull is a proud partner) stands in solidarity with Michael Brown’s family, the Ferguson community, and every victim of police brutality.
All human life is valuable. It is the job of law enforcement to protect human life, yet Darren Wilson destroyed it. At every turn, be it in Ferguson, St. Louis, Cleveland, Jacksonville or New York, the failure to check police violence and impunity reinforces our deep fear that black life is not valued by the justice system in this country. In the United States, law enforcement systemically discriminates against the people already vulnerable to marginalization. Instead, law enforcement should go out of its way to protect marginalized populations. Such protection is required by UN treaties that the United States has ratified.
The judicial system continues to fail Michael Brown. Immediately after his death, the prosecutor did not promptly investigate his death – and in the time since, the prosecutor chose to present the case to a grand jury rather than indict Darren Wilson himself, which keeps the indictment process covered in a blanket of secrecy. Though often confused in the media and public understanding with a jury decision where evidence is presented by advocates for the state and for the defense, grand jurors only hear what the county prosecutor chooses to present and how he chooses to present it.
Furthermore, the executive order from Missouri governor Jay Nixon epitomizes the government’s institutionalized blindness to human rights atrocities. Jay Nixon authorized the National Guard to become involved in Ferguson, prioritizing the regulation of demonstrations over the need to protect the human rights of a community that has been traumatized by state harassment and violence. People have the basic human right to demonstrate and – more importantly – the right to not be profiled, criminalized and shot to death, especially by those that are meant to protect us. People have the human right to life. People have the human right to be free from cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment – a right that is violated as a result of persistent racial profiling and harassment by law enforcement. The antagonism against protesting, civil disobedience, and a community standing up for their rights in Ferguson and the larger St Louis area is unacceptable.
In the face of tremendous pain, we commend Lesley McSpadden and Mike Brown Sr. for their courage – in speaking out to prevent other families from losing loved ones.
Unfortunately, what happened in Ferguson is not unique. Ferguson is one of many communities across the United States facing police brutality and the denial of human rights. This is a systemic problem and a failure of leadership. Individual officers may pull the trigger, but it is the police departments and political establishment that create and maintain an environment that allows black and brown people to be criminalized and targeted.
What happened in Ferguson is emblematic of a systemic failure – judicial, political, and economic. While we regret the decision not to indict Officer Wilson, we know that an indictment would not have solved our country’s deep problems with police brutality, racism, and human rights violations. We encourage people to continue to organize. USHRN stands in solidarity with everyone protesting injustice in Ferguson, protesting on behalf of the people of Ferguson, and protesting against police brutality. USHRN calls for the U.S. Government to take measures to end police brutality. We call on the government to acknowledge and address the structural violence and institutional discrimination that imprison black and brown communities in poverty and/or behind bars. The U.S. Government must develop and implement a National Plan of Action for Racial Justice to address racism once and for all.
(This statement is shared with the permission of the US Human Rights Network. Please visit the website to learn more about the important work of this organization in which Woodhull is a proud partner. The original article is at on their website. )
-The Coordinating Center staff for the US Human Rights Network, in which Woodhull is a proud partner.