Last night, St. Louis and Ferguson police — dressed in camouflage and equipped with armored tanks and military rifles — fired tear gas, rubber coated bullets, and flash grenades at thousands of Black residents exercising their right to peacefully assemble and demand accountability for the police killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown.1 Many were injured in the war-like environment as police displayed a blatant disregard for civil rights — unlawfully arresting dozens of people including members of the press. Local authorities have proven incapable and the federal government must step in.
Earlier today, President Obama said:
“Now is the time for an open and transparent process to see that justice is done. And I’ve asked that the attorney general and the U.S. attorney on the scene continue to work with local officials to move that process forward.”2
But that’s not enough. President Obama and US Attorney General Eric Holder must take definitive action to increase oversight and enforce a higher national standard that ends rampant police misconduct and protects the civil rights of Black Missourians. If not, matters will only get worse.
Join me in calling on President Obama and Attorney General Holder to intervene and protect Missouri from an unaccountable and violent police force. And when you are done, ask your friends and family to do the same.
And it’s not just Ferguson. Systemic militarization of law enforcement combined with long-held racial bias and the criminalization of Black residents has turned those exercising their constitutional right to peacefully assemble and protest in Ferguson into enemy combatants of a highly militarized and violent police force.3 This must end and there’s no time to waste.
In the past 48 hours, nearly 70,000 ColorOfChange members have taken action demanding justice for Michael Brown. Will you continue to work toward a path of justice for Michael Brown and other victims of police violence?
Thanks and peace,
1.”The Most Outrageous Police Tactics In Ferguson” ThinkProgress 8-14-14
2. “Transcript: Obama’s remarks on unrest in Ferguson, Mo., and Iraq,” Washington Post 8-14-14
3. “Ferguson and the Militarization of Police” US News 08-14-2014
Just days ago, a Ferguson police officer racially profiled and fatally shot unarmed, Black, 18-year-old, Michael Brown as he walked to his grandmother’s residence with a friend.1 Eye witnesses report that the police officer, who has yet to be identified, fired several shots at Michael as the teen stood in the street with his hands in the air. The family and local community members are calling his death an execution.
Racially-motivated police violence has no place in law enforcement. Join us in demanding a rigorous investigation, prosecution, and firing of all officers involved in this tragic police killing. It only takes a moment.
Dorian Johnson, Michael’s good friend, who experienced the entire police killing from just feet away, spoke out today.2 Detailing the entire police attack, Dorian reveals the officer’s malice from start to finish, with the officer’s first words to the teens, “get the f—k on the sidewalk.” As the officer’s aggression escalated, and he fired the first shots into Michael, the teens ran in fear for their lives. As Michael stood in the street with his hands in the air, the officer fired the fatal shots. Michael’s last words were, “I don’t have a gun, stop shooting!”
Law enforcement officials are working hard to construct a false narrative and make it harder to hold the officers accountable, even refusing to interview the primary eye-witness of the police killing.3 Enough is enough.This tragic police killing is representative of the systemic police abuse affecting Black communities in Ferguson, Missouri, and across the country.
Last year, Black Missouri residents were 66% more likely to be stopped by police, and more likely to be arrested, even though white residents were more likely to be found with contraband.4 And despite representing two thirds of Ferguson’s population, Black people are 86% of those stopped by police while driving.5 Decades of entrenched police violence and racial profiling policies targeting Black youth on the basis of dehumanizing stereotypes has led to the brutal police murder of 18-year-old Michael Brown.
Thanks and peace,
— Matt, Rashad, Arisha, Jamar, Lyla and the rest of the ColorOfChange.org team
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1. “Unarmed 18-year-old man shot dead by police in Missouri: witnesses,” NY Daily News, 08-10-14
2. “Eyewitness to Michael Brown shooting recounts his friend’s death,” MSNBC 08-12-2014
3. See reference 3.
4. “Michael Brown and disparity of due process,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch 08-11-2014
5. “Black residents in Ferguson, Missouri, are stopped and arrested far more than whites,” BuzzFeed, 08-11-14