National Civil Rights Groups Disappointed by Ferguson Grand Jury Decision, Call for Significant Reforms

(Photo: Scott Olson, Getty Images)


Rahwa Andemichael, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
[email protected]; 202-662-8347

Guillermo Meneses, GMMB
[email protected]; 202-445-1570

Jamiah Adams , NAACP
[email protected]; 443 571 6618

National Civil Rights Groups Disappointed by St. Louis County Grand Jury Decision in Fatal Shooting of Michael Brown by Police Officer Darren Wilson, Call for Significant Reforms

Washington, D.C., November XX, 2014- Following today’s decision by the St. Louis County grand jury in the investigation of the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed African American teenager shot by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri, a coalition of national civil and human rights groups issued the following joint statement:

National civil and human rights organizations and community leaders expressed disappointment at today’s announcement by the St. Louis County grand jury not to indict Officer Darren Wilson for the wrongful shooting death of Michael Brown. This decision is a failure by St. Louis County in securing justice for Michael Brown and his family.

The act of injustice seen in the killing of unarmed African American teenager Michael Brown and the collapse of the justice system have struck our community to its core. Brown’s slaying and the resulting mistreatment of protestors in Ferguson, MO has brought to light the larger issue of police brutality and the need for critical police reforms, including de-militarization; community-based policing; mandatory racial bias and sensitivity training for all law enforcement personnel; and full accountability in Ferguson and nationwide. It also underscores the structural factors that have led to white political dominance in the city of Ferguson, contributing to racial inequalities in socio-economic access for African-Americans, which pre-date the shooting of Michael Brown.

We have mourned the repeated loss of innocent lives of citizens of color at the hands of racism and the senseless use of deadly force and the militarization of law enforcement across the nation. Sadly, the same injustices, the same violence and threat to the civil rights of Americans shown in black and white images, in our history books and documentaries as being a thing of the past is sadly still alive and well.

Now is the time to act. A coalition of 14 national civil and human rights organizations and leaders issued a Unified Statement of Action to Promote Reform and Stop Police Abuse on August 18th, which cited clear and necessary recommendations and reforms. We will continue to work together to ensure that all of our recommendations and reforms are adopted and justice is brought in Ferguson. Notably, six additional groups, including the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, and more than 520 independent signatories, have joined the open letter which was sent to the White House and the Department of Justice (DOJ).

We reiterate our call for transparency, accountability, leadership, and training, including:

  • A final update and release of the DOJ’s June 2003 Guidance Regarding the Use of Race by Federal Law Enforcement Agencies;
  • Passage of the End Racial Profiling Act introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senator Cardin (MD) (S. 1038) and in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (MI) (H.R. 2851);
  • A full accounting of police-involved killings of African Americans nationwide;
  • Mandatory racial bias and sensitivity training for all law enforcement personnel;
  • The required use of police officer Body-Worn Cameras (BWC) to record every police-civilian encounter;
  • Better accountability of the use and potential distribution and use of federal military weapons by local law enforcement; and
  • Greater oversight of police officers through the formation of a national police commission.

We will never realize a post-racial society until we honestly acknowledge, confront and address the systemic structures that maintain the vestiges of racial segregation and de-humanization in this country, particularly in law enforcement.  Systemic change must be made to address the implicit and explicit bias against people of color, particularly African American youth.



“The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is troubled by the grand jury decision today. Although not deterred, the Lawyers’ Committee will continue to work with legal and community partners to seek justice for Michael Brown and his family, and work on ensuring that systemic change is brought in Ferguson and nationwide to address excessive force by law enforcement against people of color, particularly African American youth, who are routinely targeted by law enforcement.”
-Barbara R. Arnwine, President and Executive Director, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

“The NAACP is deeply disappointed that the grand jury did not indict Darren Wilson for the senseless and tragic death of Michael Brown. While we are frustrated, we stand committed to continue our fight against racial profiling, police brutality and the militarization of local authorities.  We will remain steadfast in our fight to pass the End Racial Profiling legislation.  And we stand in solidarity with peaceful protesters and uphold that their civil rights not be violated as both demonstrators and authorities observe the “rules of engagement.”  The grand jury’s decision does not mean a crime was not committed in Ferguson, Missouri, it does not mean we are done fighting for Michael Brown. Today’s decision only adds to the reasons the NAACP is also calling for the Department of Justice to begin a criminal investigation immediately. At this difficult hour, we commend the courage and commitment of Michael Brown’s family, as well as local and national coalition partners.”
-Cornell William Brooks, NAACP President and CEO

“The National Coalition on Black Civic Participation and Black Women’s Roundtable are seriously troubled by the grand jury’s decision not to indict Darren Wilson for the violent and senseless killing of Michael Brown. It’s been a long road traveled in the civil rights movement, but the slaying of Michael Brown, followed by this decision, makes it clear that we can’t take off our marching shoes yet. We’ve got to keep the movement moving until injustice like this is only heard about in the history books. We pray for Michael Brown’s family and urge the public to engage in peaceful protests.”

Melanie L. Campbell, President and CEO, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation and convener, Black Women’s Roundtable

“Today’s announcement makes clear that the systemic bias and dysfunction in our justice system that led to Michael Brown’s death extends all the way to the courthouse. We send our condolences to the Brown family and the community of Ferguson for today’s announcement that there would be no justice for this shooting death or the wounds it inflicted on the community. We will continue to partner with law enforcement at all levels to correct the systemic bias that exists at every juncture of our justice system and causes young men of color to be killed or unjustly targeted and subject to heavy-handed sentencing.”
-Wade Henderson, President and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

“We are deeply disappointed with the grand jury’s failure to indict police officer Darren Wilson for the fatal shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown. The tragedy of Mr. Brown’s death at the hands of Officer Wilson, as well as the overwrought, often unconstitutional and overly-militarized response to protests in Ferguson are harsh and painful reminders of the work that we all must undertake to fulfill America’s promises of racial equality and justice.”
Sherrilyn Ifill, NAACP Legal Defense Fund, President, Director-Counsel

“Today’s decision by the grand jury to not indict Officer Darren Wilson in the horrific killing of Michael Brown is disappointing, but not the end to the struggle for justice. Now more than ever, it is critical for the U.S. Department of Justice to take a leading role in changing policies that allow the police to target innocent people and engage in brutality against Americans.  Michael Brown was an unarmed African American with his entire life ahead of him, and we must honor his legacy by continuing the fight against racial profiling and excessive use of force.”
-Farhana Khera, Executive Director, Muslim Advocates

“The National Bar Association is disappointed, yet not discouraged by the Grand Jury’s decision not to indict officer Darren Wilson.  The message sent to this country today is that it’s okay to shoot and kill an unarmed individual of color.   The problems with police brutality is nothing new but the combined efforts of the civil rights organization is something this country has not seen in a very long time. With the combined efforts and the manpower of the National Bar Association, we plan to keep our sleeves rolled up until there is change.”

-Pamela Meanes, President of the National Bar Association