Statement of NOW President Terry O’Neill
Washington, D.C. – The criminal justice system has failed in Ferguson, Missouri. NOW condemns the grand jury’s refusal to indict Darren Wilson, the white officer who shot Michael Brown dead after stopping him for walking in the street instead of on the sidewalk. Michael Brown, an African American 19-year-old, was unarmed.
NOW deplores the fact that our justice system has utterly failed Michael Brown’s family and community. Even worse is the spectacle of the authorities’ militarized response to peaceful demonstrations, a response that is all too similar to the inhumane and racist tactics used in the Deep South against civil rights protesters in the 50s and 60s.
The crisis in Ferguson reveals a racial divide in the U.S. that far too many would rather ignore. We cannot ignore it any more.
We call on the authorities to halt all use of military weaponry against demonstrators and to respect their constitutional right of peaceful assembly and protest.
Ferguson is only one of a horrific number of incidents that add up to a pandemic of overpolicing and underprotection in communities of color throughout the United States. In addition to Michael Brown, we also mourn the loss of Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis. Additionally, NOW calls for recognition that women of color are targets too — from Yvette Smith in Texas to Eleanor Bumpurs in Brooklyn to Tarika Wilson in Lima, Ohio.
Federal and state authorities must take action to end the nationwide crisis of police brutality in communities of color. To have any hope of being effective, that action must include women as well as men, and girls as well as boys.
NOW salutes the peaceful protesters in Ferguson and beyond, and stands in solidarity with their demand for justice.