Caribbean legislators outraged over decision not to indict officer in Brown shooting


Times Square, New York protest in the wake of the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO (Flickr/Jason Allen)

Nelson A. King

NEW YORK, United States, Wednesday November 26, 2014, CMC – Caribbean born legislators have expressed outrage over a grand jury decision in Ferguson, Missouri not to indict a white police officer who killed an unarmed 18-year-old black youth in August.

“On behalf of the people of the Ninth Congressional District of New York, I wish once again to share my condolences with the family of Michael Brown, whose efforts to secure justice on behalf of their son have been undermined by the decision of the grand jury, said Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants.

“The killing of Michael Brown and attacks by the Ferguson Police Department on the media and protesters demonstrate a reckless disregard for the civil rights and civil liberties of Americans of African descent and people of good will who seek justice in a nation with a long and tortured history of racial bias and discrimination against human beings in black bodies,” Clarke told the Caribbean Media Corporation

“The assumption that young men and young women who are African-American are inherently suspicious is a false assumption with deadly consequences, as witnessed and experienced by Black people from the inception of our nation to the present day.

“We must not allow this false assumption to prevail in our society. We cannot continue to accept the devaluation of African-American lives that resulted in the inhumane killing of Michael Brown and the failure of the grand jury to indict the police officer who killed him, on any charge, as well as in recent incidents such as the senseless killings of Eric Garner of Staten Island (New York) and Akai Gurley here in Brooklyn just last week, said Clarke, a member of the US House of Representatives Committee on Small Business, Ethics, and Homeland Security.

Clarke’s Democratic Congressional colleague in Brooklyn, Hakeem Jeffries, who represents the 8th Congressional District, also condemned the grand jury’s decision not to indict the police officer, Darren Wilson.

“From Ferguson to Brooklyn, the zip codes may be different but the issue of police officers shooting young, unarmed African-American men without justification is exactly the same.

“Throughout this country, we need a dramatic change in the manner that law enforcement authorities engage communities of colour. The failure of the grand jury to indict Officer Darren Wilson is a miscarriage of justice.

“But justice delayed is not justice denied. We now need the federal civil rights investigation to take center stage, and do the right thing for the family of Michael Brown.?

Grenadian American New York City Council Member Jumaane D. Williams, Deputy Leader and co-chair of the City Council’s Taskforce to Combat Gun Violence, said while the grand jury’s decision “for most of us were not surprising, it was disheartening nonetheless.

“It disturbed me that instead of deciding whether or not there was enough evidence existing to support an indictment, the jury essentially conducted a full trial,” Williams, who represents the 45th Council District in Brooklyn, also told CMC., adding “that was not the charge of a grand jury, as I understood it.

“In addition, many would want America to focus on minute details of this single case and ask that the verdict be accepted, but to do that would overlook the forest of much more dense and troubling trees,” he said, adding “perhaps it would be a reasonable request if history did not repeat itself time and time again.

“However, the killing of Michael Brown is not about one incident, but is another example of how all too often young black or brown unarmed men are being killed by the people who are paid to protect them. Even worse is when our justice system sends out a resounding message that it doesn’t care.

“Perhaps the call to examine this one case would be understandable if justice came more often, but we’ve seen these unjust acts in communities of more color for far too long,” Williams said.

Haitian-American New York State Assembly member-elect Rodneyse Bichotte, said she was “moved to protest this lack of justice, just as many in our community.

“A tragedy took place in Ferguson last summer; a family was robbed of their teenage son; a community faced off against an institution sworn to protect it; and, as President Obama acknowledged, we as a nation have been forced to confront the continuing story of tension between law enforcement and communities of colour, while the focus to make our streets safer has become secondary,” said Bichotte, who will be sworn in early January as the representative for the predominantly Caribbean 42nd Assembly District in Brooklyn.

The authorities have declared a state of emergency in Ferguson and police have clashed with demonstrators peeved at the grand jury’s decision.

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