Across America people are processing news that the Ferguson police officer who killed Michael Brown will not be held criminally responsible. There have already been protests at PC and at URI. Tonight at 7pm there is a protest at Central High School in Providence.
We reached out to several local Black leaders and asked for their reactions. Here are the responses we got:
I am both saddened and frustrated with the no indictment decision of the Ferguson Grand Jury.
The disrespect given to the African American community in Ferguson is appalling. All along the community wanted a special prosecutor so that there would be a fair and impartial process. The fact that a special prosecuter was not selected speaks volumes as to the arrogance by Missouri public officials as to the feelings of the Ferguson community. This clearly was a missed opportunity to bridge the racial divide.
The NAACP Providence Brsnch urges everyone to respect the wishes of the Brown family and our President and calls for indivifuals to act responsubility at this difficult time.
- Jim Vincent, executive director, NAACP Providence chapter
The Rhode Island Black Business Association is deeply saddened by the decision of the Grand Jury in Ferguson, Missouri. However, we are aware that the legal process does not always end as we would like and the decision reflects review of the evidence presented to the Grand Jury and their thoughtful deliberations.
We understand the frustration, anger and fear expressed through violence by some in Ferguson. But we deplore the fact that this violence occurs at all and further, we know that this violence destroys neighborhoods physically and divides communities. Violence is not a solution.
However, it must be recognized that the use of deadly force against an unarmed young black man in Ferguson raised serious questions about the role of the police in every black community. And, based on recent highly publicized examples of other similar tragedies, this question must be addressed at both the national and local levels – It is a national problem. At a minimum, we believe there is a need to continually train police officers in the need for constraint before deadly force is authorized or used against anyone. Violence is not a solution.
- Lisa Ranglin, founder/president Rhode Island Black Business Association
Needless to say, It is a very complex matter that is rooted deeply into American culture. Given the history of verdicts related to Black men being killed by the police and the prosecutor becoming a defense lawyer for the accused police officer, the verdict came as no surprise. The resulting street violence, while abhorrent, was quite predictable.
There will be more Fergusons in the future for there is no apparent leadership will to deal with the logic of cause and effect and that color really does matter and continues to be the primary source of all that’s bad. Crisis sets the stage to move toward a solution. It becomes a leadership matter on all levels. Real applied fairness and justice, while difficult to attain, is the only long term cure.
- Michael Van Leesten, I-195 Commission member, Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame inductee
With the events that transpired yesterday I am saddened to see that justice was not served. Although working in law enforcement is a very difficult profession, law enforcement officers are public servants and do not have the right to operate above the law. In fact, I believe police officers should be held to a higher standard, and be true to their mandate, “to protect and serve”. Clearly in the case of Michael Brown, no one was protected and justice was not served.
The African American community has suffered from police abuse for hundreds of years. The “proactive” policing tactics touted by police commissioners across the US have resulted in countless tragedies such as the one in Ferguson. As NYC commissioner Raymond Kelly learned first hand from the students at Brown University, “Stop and Frisk” is not an acceptable form of routine law enforcement, and it has no place in American society.
I believe that this country has come a long way since the days of segregation. We have abolished racial profiling from our laws, but now it is time to abolish racial bigotry from our hearts and minds. Martin Luther King peacefully pushed for change. His words ring as true today as they did when he spoke them over a half century ago,”Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.”
- Leah Williams Metts, community/political organizer
This post will be updated as we receive more responses. Please comment your reactions below.