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Calls for justice for Brown were repeated, and a former police officer said they were instructed to shoot to wound, not to kill. This young man, he said, was murdered. If we don’t protect our community, who will? he asked. Referencing Travon Martin and Eric Garner, there is something new every week. There is an undercurrent in this country that gives them a license to kill. “We want this man arrested, in jail and charged for murder.”
Brown, who was unarmed, was gunned down and left to die in the street by an unidentified police officer who reportedly accosted Brown for walking in the street. The race of the police officer has not been made known, but Ferguson has a predominately white police force with only four black officers. The racial makeup of Ferguson is approximately two/thirds black.
Community leaders as a whole condemned the riots in Ferguson Sunday night that smashed property and looted stores. They called for peaceful protests and a united front between the older members of the community and the young protesters who are on the front lines.
Speaking for the NAACP, its national president, Cornell Brooks, reminded the crowd that the NAACP has won in court, not in the streets. He said that Martin Luther King did not live and die that we might steal for justice in the middle of the night; he asked the young members of the community to lead this justice movement on social media, not only in St. Louis, but to all the world, to take this justice to the outermost corners of the universe, all non-violently.
What happened in Ferguson, Brooks said, the Brown incident presents a “disturbingly familiar pattern” of a minor offense being met by a “disproportionately violent force”. It’s happening but it must stop. This pattern of minor offenses met with overwhelming force has led to decades of misery for the black and brown communities. Michael Brown is not the enemy, he is who you have sworn to protect and serve.
Discussing finding justice for Michael Brown, Brooks harked back to Frederick Douglass, who said there can be no rain without thunder and no progress without struggle. We will not give up and we will not relent he told the gathering.
Near the end of the session a woman got up and told the meeting that protests in Ferguson had begun. Why are you here? She asked. Why aren’t you out there with them?
Another gentleman accused some of the speakers of clouding the issue with calls for voter registration and education. He said the eyes of the world are on St. Louis and there is only one issue: Justice — let’s lead. He reminded them that this is 2014, not 1968 and all we want is justice.
There will be a protest held at the St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office Tuesday morning at10 a.m. to seek the arrest, indictment and conviction of the Ferguson officer and the establishment of a civilian review board.