Tonight, St. Louis County District Attorney Robert McCulloch announced the decision of the grand jury in the killing of Michael Brown: the grand jury found no probable cause to indict Officer Darren Wilson of any charges. The grand jury began hearing testimony on August 20th and had its final meeting on November 24th, deliberating for two days before reaching a decision. The grand jury met for a total of 25 days and heard from 60 witnesses for over 70 hours, including three medical examiners. The task of the grand jury was to determine whether there was probable cause to indict Officer Wilson — it was not their task to determine his guilt. That would have been decided in a trial.
For the last 100 days organizers have been preparing for this day. In Ferguson, hundreds of people have been trained in nonviolent direct action. These people have divided into groups that are planning their own actions. We expect to see some creative and strategic actions come out of this horizontal approach. And, organizers are planning an ongoing campaign with the goal of creating transformational change in the way police relate to African Americans.
Across the country people have organized to respond to this verdict. Actions are planned from coast to coast. To find an action near you visit: http://fergusonaction.com. If you want to organize an action in your community, the suggested foci are federal buildings especially the Department of Justice and US Attorney’s Offices, so hold your action there if possible. There is an ongoing investigation by the Department of Justice and organizing should focus on bringing that investigation to a conclusion that ensures justice for Michael Brown and his family. For a list of DOJ buildings, look here. If there is not a DOJ target in your city, please consider a location that represents the systemic issues we are trying to address. Some other location being targeted include local police stations, city halls, and state capitol buildings.
The issue of police abuse is a national concern. Just in the last few days African Americans have been killed in Cleveland, where a 12 year old boy was shot while playing with a fake gun and in New York, where a 28 year old man was killed for no apparent reason. These are just the two latest examples of consistent killings of African Americans by police. This behavior is unacceptable and it is our responsibility to end the status quo of police killings. We need to organize to make sure that the Michael Brown case galvanizes people across the country to take strategic, nonviolent direct actions in an ongoing campaign that will change the relationship between police and communities, especially in African American communities.
Ferguson organizers have suggested the following principles for your consideration in organizing around the issue of police abuse and justice for Mike Brown:
- Advance the leadership of young black people and other young people of color in your action planning, choice of spokespeople, and your continued work.
- Use this moment as an opportunity to address systemic racism, not just the struggle in Ferguson. Connect the fate of Mike Brown with the fate of millions of Black young people everywhere. Elevate local incidents of police violence known to people in your community.
- Use the hash tag #shutitdown in all social media attached to your action.
- Encourage everyone to join our national text network. Text “HANDSUP” to 90975. This is very important. If you have a mass action this may be the best way to collect a list. In the future we will be able to send texts to people based on their zip code. We will try to send region specific texts in the future.
- If possible, design your action to be intense, direct, and sustained. We don’t want this to be a blip, or spasm. We want a meaningful conversation to be sparked.
- If possible, develop a creative action. Be imaginative and think outside the box.
- If possible, do an action at the DOJ or another federal building. If those places are not available find a location that will resonate with people in your community.
The United States may be approaching a tipping point on the issues of systemic racism and police abuse throughout the country, especially against African Americans. This is an important issue for us to confront so that the stream of killings by police officers comes to an end.