WASHINGTON, D.C., November 24, 2014 – Following today’s decision by the St. Louis County grand jury to not indict in the case of the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed African American teenager shot by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri, The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee) issues the following statement:
“First and foremost, we keep the Brown family and the community of Ferguson in our thoughts and prayers,” said Lawyers’ Committee President and Executive Director Barbara Arnwine. “What happened in Ferguson, Missouri raises serious questions about how communities of color nationwide are treated by our criminal justice system. We call upon elected officials and law enforcement to establish policies and procedures that will put an end to bias against people of color. Police brutality, especially against minority communities, is a national crisis and requires a national response.”
“In light of today’s decision by the St. Louis County grand jury to not indict Darren Wilson, the Lawyers’ Committee will redouble its efforts and call for long-term systemic reform of our nation’s law enforcement procedures including the holding of Congressional hearings on the use of excessive and deadly force by police,” said Lawyers’ Committee Public Policy Director Tanya Clay House. “We remain steadfast in calling for community policing, sensitivity training for police forces and other universal protocols to ensure the safety and security of citizens and law enforcers alike.”
The Lawyers’ Committee once again makes a national call for transparency, accountability, leadership, and training. On August 18th, 2014, the Lawyers’ Committee along with 13 other national and civil rights organizations issued the Unified Statement of Action to Promote Reform and Stop Police Abuse. Notably, six additional groups, including the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, and more than 520 independent signatories, have joined the open statement which was sent to the White House and the DOJ.
Recommendations from the groups include:
- 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 training on racial bias and police use of force;
- The required use of police officer Body-Worn Cameras (BWC) and dash-cams on police vehicles to record every police-civilian encounter;
- Better accountability of the use and limitations on the distribution and the use of federal military weapons by local law enforcement; and
- Greater oversight of police officers through the formation of a national police commission.