breaking: justice department will not seek federal civil rights charges against darren wilson in the death of michael brown
March 4, 2015
After the November non-indictment of Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown Jr., hope remained in a Justice Department inquiry into the killing. As of today, the DOJ has announced they will not seek charges against Darren Wilson. In an 86 page report, the department states that they have found “no evidence upon which prosecutors can rely to disprove Wilson’s stated subjective belief that he feared for his safety.” However, in a separate 105 page report, the DOJ has found overwhelming evidence of systemic racial bias in the Ferguson Police Department. The larger investigation into the Ferguson Police Department practices “has revealed a pattern or practice of unlawful conduct within the Ferguson Police Department that violates the First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, and federal statutory law.” Furthermore “Ferguson’s approach to law enforcement both reflects and reinforces racial bias, including stereotyping. The harms of Ferguson’s police and court practices are borne disproportionately by African Americans,” and there is evidence that this is due in part to intentional discrimination on the basis of race.”
By Nathan Leigh, AFROPUNK Contributor
While the DOJ’s findings point to positive change, and their summary of proposed solutions echoes many of the demands of Ferguson activists, the DOJ has historically not pushed for personnel changes. Instead they’ve focused their efforts on retraining current officers. So while positive change may still come from the Justice Department, it is unlikely that any officers complicit in these crimes will see any consequences for their actions. The DOJ report citing the need to diversify the police force and “ensure that the department’s officer hiring and selection process…comport with best practices and federal anti-discrimination laws,” as well as “develop mechanisms to more effectively respond to allegations of officer misconduct…to build community confidence and police legitimacy,” point to an understanding that the staffing of the Ferguson Police Department is itself a part of the problem.
Michael Brown’s family released the following statement:
“Today we received disappointing news from the Department of Justice that the killer of our son wouldn’t be held accountable for his actions. While we are saddened by this decision, we are encouraged that the DOJ will hold the Ferguson Police Department accountable for the pattern of racial bias and profiling they found in their handling of interactions with people of color. It is our hope that through this action, true change will come not only in Ferguson, but around the country. If that change happens, our son’s death will not have been in vain.”
You can read the full DOJ decision not to press charges here:
The full text of the DOJ’s investigation into the racial bias of the Ferguson Police Department can be read here:
There are many organizations working towards justice in the absence of judicial action against Darren Wilson. Please share any community organizations that you’re working with, and any needs they may have.
Ferguson Alternative Spring Break is being organized by some of the activists behind Faces of the Movement to volunteer with Ferguson community leaders. Find out more here: http://fergusonalternativespringbreak.org/
This Is The Movement is an organization that provides a bridge between different social justice groups. You can connect to them here:
Artists and arts educators should look at the Ferguson Theatre Syllabus, which is a list of plays that tie into current conversations about the over policing of communities of color: http://www.americantheatre.org/2014/12/17/the-ferguson-theatre-syllabus/
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