GRAND JURY CONCLUDES MURDER OF MICHAEL BROWN “JUSTIFIED”
GRAND JURY CONCLUDES MURDER OF MICHAEL BROWN “JUSTIFIED”
Prosecutor Acts As Defense Attorney, Misuses Grand Juary As A “Trial” Without Professional Legal Cross-Examination
Statement By Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr.
November 23, 2014
It has been fairly obvious from the beginning that the predominate belief in Ferguson and St. Louis was that Darren Wilson, the killer of Michael Brown, was not going to be indicted by a Bob McCullough-led grand jury. In a rambling statement of the grand jury’s process and conclusion - which did little to inform - Bob McCullough acted in the capacity of a defense attorney who mis-used the grand jury process “as a trial” without professional legal cross-examination.
Political and legal authorities in the area had not been preparing for a trial. They had been preparing for civil unrest. And just as the legal authorities and police initially mis-reacted to the shooting, then overreacted to the community’s initial protest of the Michael Brown killing, which contributed to the original civil unrest in the face of mostly peaceful demonstrations. The legal and political authorities have mostly said and done all the wrong things. While I had urged and hoped that the reaction to the Bob McCullough-led grand jury’s decision would be peaceful, the community is not crazy. It is reflecting a hopelessness in the quest to achieve justice for Michael Brown. But this is not the end. We must continue to seek justice for Michael Brown through whatever avenues still remain open to us, including a federal indictment. The shooting down of unarmed young Black men like dogs by the police across the nation must stop!
Instead of a public trial for Darren Wilson, with the presumption of innocence until proven guilty, the legal authorities in Ferguson and St. Louis put Michael Brown’s character on trial in the public and a secret grand jury decided that his murder was justified. Recently the armed White cop killer in Pennsylvania, who was trying to kill even more cops, was captured alive, but an unarmed Michael Brown was shot down in cold blood. Michael Brown’s murder can only be described as a homicide. The issue is not the unfortunate and unwise violent protests that followed. The issue is the lack of federal uplift for the community even now. The issue is the lack of federal enforcement of civil rights laws. The issue is that Ferguson’s police and fire departments do not represent the people, are in violation of the law, yet it continues to receive federal funds. Ferguson’s police department, fire department and contracts issued are all subsidized by the federal government - including the equipment that was used to put down the protests – yet the federal government is still not enforcing its own civil rights laws. Ferguson and St. Louis are under military occupation and martial law. Ferguson does need federal involvement and occupation, but for the purpose of uplifting the community and denying federal funds to its police and fire departments because they are in violation of the law. The EEOC should enforce the law in Ferguson. The Office of Federal Contract Compliance should enforce its laws in Ferguson – money must be denied to Ferguson at every point that it has violated federal law. Federal funds and the law should be used to provide jobs and job training, and to end racial discrimination in the police and fire departments and wherever else it exists in Ferguson, St. Louis and around the nation.
This federal ghetto policy of reckless and unaccountable police behavior and military occupation must end. It’s a policy of community containment rather than community development. USA Today reported that Blacks are arrested 10 times more often than Whites, but we don’t commit 10 times more crimes. Current community development in the ghetto is new jails, for profit jails, judges, new courthouses, new police stations, increased police presence and new military equipment, not new jobs and job training, not new schools and more teachers, and not business development that would lead to permanent economic stability for our communities. This is about Michael Brown’s murder, but it’s not just about Michael Brown’s murder. It’s about a national ghetto policy – guns in, drugs in, jobs and services out, contained with military occupation like South African apartheid. This federal ghetto policy is true whether you’re in Ferguson, St. Louis, Los Angeles, Seattle, Atlanta, Birmingham, Milwaukee or wherever. It’s the federal government’s national ghetto policy.
Michael Brown’s murder was mishandled from the beginning. Public officials and law enforcement have handled things almost all wrong: releasing the video of Michael Brown stealing cigarellos at the store in an attempt to paint a negative profile of him immediately after he was shot – which was totally unrelated to his being killed by Darrell Wilson; leaving Michael Brown’s body in the street and summer heat for over four hours; no Ferguson police report on the shooting; no transparancy by the Ferguson Police Department relative to Mr. Brown’s killing; misinformation about Officer Wilson’s injury and eye socket; police covering up their badge names; police wearing “I am Darren Wilson” bracelets; overreaction and provocative behavior by law enforcement toward peaceful demonstrators (of course police have a right to stop illegal behavior); the lack of presence and absence of leadership by Ferguson Mayor Knowles during the protests and civil disturbances; the initial use of military equipment and tactics more appropriate to military behavior against an enemy than a police force sworn to serve and protect its citizens; there was enough evidence, eye-witness testimony and probable cause, for Bob McCullouch to have indicted Darren Wilson on his own so that evidence, facts and sworn testimony could be presented at a public court trial and Mr. Wilson could be tried by a jury of his peers, but Bob McCullough refused; both Governor Nixon and Mr. McCullough refused to appoint an independent prosecutor given the fact that Mr. McCullough’s father, a politiceman, was murdered by an African American male and the community had no faith in his dispassionate consideration of the facts in this case; the unprecedented actions by Mr. McCullough to present evidence in a “neutral manner” in order to “let the grand jury totally decide on its own” to indict or not indict; the ridiculous timing of the announcement - 9pm at night, 7 hours after a decision had been reached; the selective leaking of grand jury testimony designed to favor Darren Wilson; the unprecedented and tough talking by Govenor Nixon when it came to the African American community and protesters – all directed exclusively toward the demonstrators - while totally ignoring the previous misconduct by law enforcement officers; and Mayor Knowles, a conservative Republican, showing up in public wearing an NRA cap. In other words, the legal atmosphere in St. Louis was closer to Dred Scott in 1857 than to a commitment of equal justice under the law of Brown in 2014.