The National LGBTQ Task Force describes the grand jury's decision not to indict Ferguson, Mo., officer Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown as "shocking and painful for millions."
The following statement is by Rev. Darlene Nipper, Deputy Executive Director, National LGBTQ Task Force:
"People across this nation feel angry and outraged by this decision. Justice has been denied today to the parents of Michael Brown, the community of Ferguson, and an entire nation that continues to battle with racially motivated homicides and violence targeting black and brown males. No one should ever live in fear of walking down a street in their neighborhood and being killed by a police officerthe very officials who are meant to protect not take our lives.
"As Americans, we have a moral obligation to speak up and stand up against injustice. All lives matter! Anyone who takes someone's life must be brought to justice. We cannot allow the murders of young Black men such as Michael Brown or Trayvon Martin to continue.
"Our thoughts and prayers remain with the family of Michael Brown and the entire community of Ferguson. We will continue to stand with Ferguson a community that has mobilized to protest excessive use of force by local authorities, organized to shed light on the ongoing racial profiling by police, built coalitions to challenge the lack of transparency and accountability by local officials and transform a system and a community.
"And while we thank the U.S. Attorney General's office for monitoring the situation in Ferguson, we still have our work cut out for us. We will continue working with the Justice Department to bring cultural competency to local police and pushing Congress to pass the 'End Racial Profiling Act.' Together, we must also redouble our efforts in advocating for reform in the criminal justice system and to end racial profiling by police.
"While this decision is shocking and painful for millions, we can't let our heartbreak diminish our collective resolve to achieve freedom, justice and equality and to do it deliberatively and peacefully."
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.
Lambda Legal Urges Justice for Police Violence Victims
Today, in the wake of the announcement that Officer Darren Wilson will not be indicted for shooting Ferguson, Missouri teenager, Michael Brown, Lambda Legal released the following joint statement from Jael Humphrey, Staff Attorney, and Beverly Tillery, Deputy Director of Education & Public Affairs for Education, Advocacy & Inclusion, its Criminal Justice and Police Misconduct program strategists:
"While there will be debate and disagreement about the facts that led to the grand jury decision announced today in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by Police Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, MO, there is no debate about the facts that a terrible tragedy took place and that another unarmed young black man lost his life at the hands of a police officer. Around the country, we continue to witness similar tragedies and loss of life that have resulted from the deadly combination of racism, police profiling, excessive use of lethal force and a general disregard for the lives of black and brown people.
"We mourn Michael Brown and every victim of police violence by continuing to work for justice for better policing and fairer laws. As an organization fighting for the rights of LGBT people and people living with HIV, we know that bias and prejudice can lead to injustice. We believe that these issues must be addressed in a systemic way and that regardless of one decision, all of us must be active participants in holding law enforcement agencies accountable for ending the unchecked assault on the lives of all of our communities that are marginalized and criminalized whether on the basis of race, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression or economic status.
"We support U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and the Department of Justice in the continued investigation into the shooting of Michael Brown and the policing practices in Ferguson."
"Lambda Legal has a long history of standing up against misconduct by police and other government officials. We will continue to work with our sister LGBT organizations and other civil rights organizations to fight to make sure that police are properly protecting and serving all the public, including LGBT people and people living with HIV."
Metropolitan Community Church response
Today, we pray for Ferguson, the family of Michael Brown, and for people everywhere who are impacted by racism. We write to you as spiritual leaders of Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC) and join with the millions around the world who grieve the death of Michael Brown, who shot down with eight bullets while unarmed and holding his hands in the air. We grieve that the grand jury felt there was not even enough evidence to have this case go to trial. We grieve that so many people are in denial about the realities of racism today.
MCC was founded almost 50 years ago to provide a spiritual home to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people. We have been a target of hate, and we come from all races. We know all oppression must be challenged because every person is created in the image of God. It is time for all faithful people around the world to pray and act to end racism.
As Christians, we remember how Jesus was challenged to go beyond his own cultural prejudice by a woman who was of the scorned Canaanite race. (Matthew 15:21-28) We remember the lives of so many African Americans who heard the Gospel and knew they were meant to be free. We remember all those of every race who have been willing to stand up and even lay down their lives for freedom and justice regardless of race, language, or identity.
As citizens of the world, we decry the use of war equipment to attack peaceful demonstrators. We stand up and speak out against the systematic criminalization of people of color. Just as Jesus overturned the tables of power and exploitation, surely Jesus would condemn a system that targets people by their skin color and economic status.
We must drop all pretense of so-called color blindness and pick up the mantle of prophecy to urge everyone to learn the facts about racial discrimination. In particular, to understand Ferguson, we must understand the larger realities of African Americans:
Black people are arrested and incarcerated six times more often than whites.
The unemployment rate for Blacks is twice that of White people.
White households have six times the wealth of African American households.
Transgender women of color are more likely to be murdered than any other group in the U.S.
African American same-gender couples live in poverty six times as often as white same-gender couples.
Black women couples are three times as likely to be poor than white women couples.
Humanity has the power to do great good. Systemic racism can be dismantled. The Berlin wall was toppled. Apartheid was overthrown. Nazi Germany was defeated. Slavery was stopped. Systems of oppression are constructed by human beings and can be deconstructed by human beings. Will it be easy? No, but like every good thing we work for, it will be worth the effort. Our only regret will be that we did not act more quickly.
We urge all people of good will to ACT TODAY.
The Council of Elders of Metropolitan Community Churches:
Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson, Rev. Dr. Mona West, Rev. Hector Gutierrez, Rev. Darlene Garner
Chicago Urban League Statement on Ferguson Grand Jury Decision
Andrea L. Zopp, President and CEO, Chicago Urban League, issued this statement:
"Today's grand jury decision to not file charges against Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson in the August 9th shooting death of Michael Brown is extremely disappointing. It is disappointing because the external evidence from witnesses on the scene that fateful day indicate that Michael Brown was unarmed and moving away from the officer with his hands up.
"Equally disappointing is the length of the grand jury investigation which undercuts the credibility of its determination. It is disheartening that, after three months of convening, the grand jury found no reason to charge Darren Wilson with the murder of Michael Brown. As a result, Wilson will not be held accountable for the shooting death of an unarmed teenager.
"That said, all of us who value life and seek justice have an obligation to honor Michael Brown's memory with peaceful protests and recognize that anything else would undercut his memory in a way even harsher than today's unjust decision. We must continue to fight for better treatment from and interactions with the police and the African American community.
"We have lost too many African American men in police killings under questionable circumstances and we must build a better platform for our interactions with the police. We must not allow this injustice towards the life of Michael Brown to stand without strategic and impactful community action."
United We Dream Responds to Grand Jury Decision to Not Indict Ferguson Officer Darren Wilson in the Shooting of Mike Brown
United We Dream and its leaders issued the following statement from Ahmad Maaz, member of Kansas Missouri Dream Act and resident of Kansas City, Mo.:
"Today, immigrant youth across the country are coming together in one voice saying, "We are all Mike Brown." As an undocumented immigrant who's dealt firsthand with oppression and an enforcement system created only to separate our families and dehumanize me, what happened to Mike Brown and his family could have happened to any of us."
"The reality is that there is no place for racial bias in policing, and it's something that continues to affect all people of color. Ferguson is an example of what happens around the country, this is why it resonates with so many of us."
Felipe Sousa-Rodriguez, Deputy Managing Director of United We Dream:
"Whether at the border or on our streets, aggressive enforcement has been tearing apart our families and our communities. The rights and lives of all people in America, black, brown, or white, should be served and protected. Instead the system is unjustly criminalizing people of color with no accountability.."
"Our families from Arizona to Alabama, have confronted a system that criminalizes our mothers and fathers because of the color of their skin, or the language that they speak, and as immigrant youth we're standing with the Ferguson community to say, "enough."
"We need a justice system that protects us all. Our community remains fearful of those entrusted with serving and protecting us, given that many times in reporting crimes against us, we're the ones who end up detained or deported."
"This is bigger than one decision. Black and brown communities will continue coming together to demand change, and to show the country that young people, united, can win positive change for their families and communities."
GSA Network Statement on Ferguson Grand Jury Decision
This is a statement from the National Youth Council of Gay-Straight Alliance Network (GSA Network) on the grand jury decision regarding the death of Michael Brown.
It has been three months since a police officer opened fire and shot Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, in Ferguson, Missouri. In those three months, the nation has witnessed the outrage, grief, and resilience of communities across the country and the world standing in solidarity with Ferguson. Peaceful protesters who demanded justice in Ferguson were met with heavy police response, including rubber bullets, tear gas, and assault rifles, only adding to the boiling tension. Since then, our nation has held its breath waiting for the decision of the grand jury.
For young people in this country, today's grand jury decision not to indict Darren Wilson sends a grave message. We live in a society where young people struggle every day against systems that push black youth and other youth of color out of school and into the punitive justice system of expulsion, police brutality, prison, and even death. These systems of oppression have ended countless lives, including the life of Michael Brown.
This verdict sends the message that our lives, bodies and communities are expendable and that we are not worthy of basic compassion and justice.
As LGBTQ and allied youth leaders in the national GSA movement, we will continue to actively speak out and fight against the systems and the injustices that threaten our safety, education and ability to thrive. The modern LGBTQ movement was started by a group of queer and trans people, white people and people of color, who refused to allow police violence to control their lives any longer. We do not accept the message that youth of color don't matter or don't deserve the same justice, safety and empowerment as other young people. As a community it is more crucial now than ever that we continue to stand against the many systems of oppression and violence that are held up by our society.
Read this statement online: www.gsanetwork.org/news/grand-jury-ferguson-statement
- GSA Network National Youth Council:
Sterling Waldman, Missouri GSA Network
Ka'Milla McMiller, Missouri GSA Network
Ruhi Bhalla, GSA Network of California
Foster Noone, Alabama
Skylar Lee, GSAFE Wisconsin
Manuel Rodriguez, New York
James DeCosta, Kansas Queer Youth Network (KQYN)
Human Rights Campaign Expresses Deep Disappointment After Grand Jury Fails to Bring Michael Brown Shooting Case to Trial
WASHINGTON In response to the St. Louis County grand jury's failure to indict Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson for the killing of Michael Brown, today the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) released the following statement from HRC President Chad Griffin:
"Michael Brown's family and the American people deserve to have this case fully adjudicated in a public trial. Today's deeply disappointing decision by the grand jury denies them that opportunity. Until we as a nation make a meaningful commitment to ending police profilingand to fully prosecuting individual cases of brutalitythe kind of violence that ended Michael Brown's life will only continue. As advocates for equality, it's our job to show solidarity with a growing national movement to break this cycle of police violence."
"While we cannot begin to imagine the pain that the Brown family is facing at this moment, we send our thoughts, prayers and condolences to them during this heartbreaking and difficult time. We also stand in solidarity with the family's encouragement of peaceful protests and reflection following this decision."
In August, HRC joined dozens of prominent national and local LGBT and other civil rights organizations in an open letter of solidarity with the family of Michael Brown. A portion of that letter is included below:
"The lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community cannot be silent at this moment, because LGBT people come from all races, creeds, faiths and backgrounds, and because all movements of equality are deeply connected. We are all part of the fabric of this nation and the promise of liberty and justice for all is yet to be fulfilled."
The National Center for Transgender Equality Reacts to Ferguson, MO Grand Jury Decision in Michael Brown Case
Michael BrownThe National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) expresses solidarity with Mr. Brown's family and wishes for them peace and healing, and joins their family in a moment of silence to memorialize Brown's life.
Transgender people know all too well that profiling of certain types of people by the police happens, especially to people of color, lower income people, young people and, of course, transgender people. Extensive violence against transgender people and others really happensand sometimes at the hand of police. Trans peopleparticularly trans women of colorare frequent targets of both profiling and violence by police officers and others.
NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling said, "We need to do better than we have been doing as a society. If we live in a society where people do not object to a young unarmed Black man being killed, we can't expect that people will object when a transgender person is targeted. We believe no one in any community is disposable and we believe that the authorities need to take every act of violence seriously, whoever is the victim, whoever commits the violence, and whatever the circumstances."
Keisling added, "St.Louis native Dr. Maya Angelou once wrote that 'there is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.' Hopefully this tragedy will help us all understand that so many people in America have an untold story that much of America has been unwilling to hear, a story of stereotyping, disrespect and violence. We believe that America needs to hear the story that Black America, transgender America and other marginalized people are trying to tell. And citing another well known Angelou quote, America 'should believe them the first time.'"
NCTE does believe the people of Ferguson and around the country who feel targeted for suspicion and violence.
NCTE will continue to advocate for greater oversight and accountability for law enforcement and for policies to end racial profiling and all forms of police bias and abuse.
NBJC Responds to Ferguson Grand Jury Decision
The National Black Justice Coalition's (NBJC) Executive Director & CEO, Sharon Lettman-Hicks, released the following statement in response to the Ferguson, Missouri Grand Jury decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown:
"I speak as a Black mother of a Black toddler boy who will one day grow up and learn that he lives in a nation where his very existence is a threat. As a parent, I will have to instruct him on how to properly conduct himself in front of law enforcement because one perceived wrong motion or non-submissive remark towards a police officer could serve him to be fatal. I will need to teach him about the legacy of Black lives eliminated due to physical and systematic violence that is too often justified by the law itself.
"Like so many in our nation, particularly in Black communities, we at NBJC are beyond saddened and heartbroken that there will not be an indictment in the Michael Brown shooting death. Once again, the life of a Black child has been taken and the process to render justice has failed us. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Brown family as they will never see the criminal and public trial of the officer who shot 12 times at their child and ultimately killed him.
"As the implications of the grand jury's decision continue to settle in and the details of the proceedings come to light, we must remember that change will only come when we demand it. Just as we did after Bloody Sunday nearly 50 years ago, we must use this injustice to galvanize our communities to take action by non-violently protesting and making our voices heard in this nation. We have to organize and educate the masses on vital issues like police brutality, militarization, criminal justice reform and profiling of all forms. Most importantly, we must use our collective access to the ballot box to elect leaders that will take action to build a more just nation, free of bias and bigotry."