Saying the justice system has failed the African-American community, the Marion County Bar Association has denounced the Ferguson, Missouri, grand jury’s decision in the shooting death of an unarmed teenager.
MCBA president Cassandra Bentley McNair issued the statement on behalf of the association Dec. 1. The association said it was “saddened and disappointed” by the decision not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson for shooting Michael Brown.
“The MCBA does not believe this was a just outcome to this process, and is disheartened that the system we as lawyers are intended to uphold failed the African-American community in such a way,” the association stated. “This situation is not just about the death of Michael Brown, but the thousands of other African-Americans who are disproportionately targeted and killed by police officers.”
Brown was shot and killed by Wilson in August 2014. Accounts of the incident vary with some witnesses saying Brown had his hands in the air, while Wilson said Brown was charging him causing him to fear for his life.
After 25 days and more than 70 hours of testimony, the grand jury decided not to charge Wilson in Brown’s death. The grand jury’s decision was release Nov. 24.
Public protests and riots have followed both the shooting and the announcement of the grand jury’s decision. The MCBA said it supports the peaceful protests.
“While we share in the public’s outrage, the MCBA does not condone the violence that a small minority of protesters have resorted to,” the association’s statement continued. “However, the majority of the protests have been peaceful, and we stand with those who are exercising their First Amendment rights to protest the actions of their government.”
The MCBA said it is committed to advancing the efforts to change the policies that “disproportionately harm African-Americans” and it supports the National Bar Association’s work to address police brutality.
“Finally, the MCBA is committed to making meaningful impact by supporting our members in obtaining positions that will allow us to have an impact on the policies and practices that underlie these issues,” the association stated. “Our condolences go out to the family of Michael Brown, the citizens of Ferguson, and every other person who has been impacted by police brutality.”