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A grand jury in St. Louis County, Mo. has decided not to indict white Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown.
St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch made the announcement during a press conference Monday. After the announcement, Brown’s family issued a statement, asking people channel frustrations toward a positive change.
“We need to work together to fix the system that allowed this to happen. Join with us in our campaign to ensure that every police officer working the streets in this country wears a body camera,” the statement read. “We respectfully ask that you please keep your protests peaceful. Answering violence with violence is not the appropriate reaction. Let’s not just make noise, let’s make a difference.”
The controversial shooting of Brown, who was shot at least six times on Aug. 9, according to an early autopsy report, sparked weeks of sometimes violent protests demanding Wilson be indicted. Local and state police prepared for the grand jury’s announcement, anticipating that it would renew protests.
Wilson’s defense team released a statement after the decision, reiterating their argument that the shooting was within accordance with the law and police regulation. “We recognize that many people will want to second-guess the grand jury’s decision. We would encourage anyone who wants to express an opinion to do so in a respectful and peaceful manner.”
Civli rights groups responded swiftly to the decision.
ColorOfChange.org Executive Director Rashad Robinson said “We all lose when the justice system fails.”
“The ColorOfChange community sends our deepest condolences to Mike Brown’s parents and loved ones,” Robinson said. “Our hearts and minds are with them as they move through this unimaginably difficult time, and their courage and perseverance remain a driving force for millions across the country who move forward with them on their journey to secure justice for their son and an end to systemic, discriminatory police violence targeting Black youth and adults nationwide. Their courage has inspired a powerful movement for racial justice and police accountability that remains strong despite today’s no indictment.
United We Dream, an immigrant youth-led organization, issued a statement from Kansas City, Mo.-based member Ahmad Maaz.
“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,” Maaz said. “Ferguson is an example of what happens around the country, this is why it resonates with so many of us.”
Earlier on Monday, Brown’s family asked for 4.5 minutes of silence following the Grand Jury’s decision. They chose that amount of time because their son’s body was reportedly left in the street for 4.5 hours after he was killed.
“After the Grand Jury’s decision, we are asking for 4 1/2 minutes of silence to remember why we lift our voices,” the family statement read. “We are not here to be violent. We are here in memory of our son. We are here for protection of all children. We are here to support justice and equality for all people. We lift our voices to ensure black and brown men, women, and children can live in this country without being devalued because of the color of our skin.”
In the days preceding the grand jury’s verdict, Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. asked demonstrators to remain nonviolent; Missouri Governor Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency and activated the National Guard to help with security; and police departments nationwide braced for protests.
President Obama, in an interview with ABC News aired prior to the jury’s decision, called on protesters to demonstrate peacefully. “Using any event as an excuse for violence is contrary to rule of law and contrary to who we are,” he stated.
On Nov. 20, Brown’s father, Michael Brown Sr., called for peace following the grand jury’s verdict, regardless of the outcome, and said he didn’t want his son’s death to be in vain.
In a video address published by St. Louis Forward, a civic collective, the elder Brown said: “My family and I are hurting. Our whole region is hurting. I thank you for lifting your voices to end racial profiling and police intimidation. But hurting others or destroying property is not the answer. No matter what the grand jury decides, I do not want my son’s death to be in vain. I want it to lead to incredible change, positive change, change that makes the St. Louis region better for everyone.”
Watch Brown’s video statement, below.
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