ACLU of Florida comment on Ferguson grand jury decision
MIAMI, FL – The grand jury in Ferguson, Mo., has declined to indict Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson on charges in the Aug. 9 shooting death of Michael Brown. The following reaction is from Howard Simon, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida:
“Whether the grand jury’s decision not to issue an indictment of the tragic death of Michael Brown at the hands of Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson is to be respected or condemned will depend on the analysis of the evidence that the grand jury reviewed.
“But the decision not to indict does highlight an alarming pattern of law enforcement use of excessive force against people of color, often during routine police encounters.
“In too many cases, the officers and police departments are not held accountable. While many officers carry out their jobs with respect for the communities they serve, America must be honest with itself and acknowledge the profound disconnect and disrespect that many communities of color – Black, brown, native American and others — experience daily with their local law enforcement.
“The ACLU will continue to fight for racial justice. An important part of that fight is ending the prevailing policing paradigm where police departments are more like occupying forces, imposing their will to control communities. This ‘us vs. them’ policing antagonizes communities by casting a blanket of suspicion over entire neighborhoods, often under the guise of preventing crime.
“To build trust, we need a system of policing where our communities have a greater say in the way their neighborhoods are policed. We need greater collaboration, transparency, and communication between police and communities around the shared goals of equality, fairness, and public safety.
“That new system of policing must involve more accountability of law enforcement, more independent investigations of allegations of police misconduct, more civilian oversight of law enforcement, and more use of technology such as police “body cams” that will create an indisputable record of police misconduct or evidence that exonerates charges of misconduct by an officer.
“We will continue to defend the First Amendment rights of those taking to the streets to protest the Grand Jury or express their concern about police – community tensions. And we stand ready to work with coalition partners on the reforms and to change the way law enforcement relates to minority communities.”