Civil Rights: Violated or not?

News

Protestors take to streets upon hearing New York and Missouri police officers will not face charges

By Anthony Plescia
Staff Writer

On Monday, Nov. 24, St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch announced the Caucasian Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson would not face criminal charges in the death of 18-year-old African American Michael Brown. The grand jury found no probable cause to indict Officer Wilson after a full investigation of the evidence surrounding the case, which started on Aug. 9.

Following a robbery of the Ferguson Market & Liquor store, Brown got into a confrontation with Officer Wilson. This altercation ultimately resulted in the loss of Brown’s life. Some witnesses testified Brown was not showing hostility toward Officer Wilson and actually surrendered before getting shot. Wilson claimed he shot Brown in self-defense.

Following the shooting, racial tensions ignited in Ferguson and around the country. Those tensions exploded again after prosecutor McCulloch’s announcement of the grand jury’s findings. Governor Jay Nixon announced a state of emergency for Missouri in the days before the grand jury’s judgment to prepare for the fierce rioting in the Ferguson area.

Despite the protests subsiding, Brown’s parents feel this resolution is an injustice to their son’s death.

“Michael Brown and the unknown Michael Browns are crying out from the grave,” said Benjamin Crump, the Brown family’s attorney in an interview with CNN. “They’re saying we have to change this system that let people kill them…without consequence.”

On the flip side, the grand jury determined that evidence indicated Officer Wilson acted in self-defense. Wilson himself claimed Brown punched him in the face during the confrontation.

When speaking with ABC News, Officer Wilson said, “I don’t know if I’d be able to withstand another hit like that…I just felt the immense power that he had. And then, the way I’ve described it is it was like a 5-year-old holding onto Hulk Hogan. That’s just how big this man was.”

Officer Wilson added he was fearful of his life because Brown had grabbed his firearm, and if he were in a similar situation again, he would take the same action.

Despite the grand jury’s verdict, many people still believe Officer Wilson was wrong to shoot Brown.

Schoolcraft student Luis Montenegro said, “No, the cop shouldn’t have shot Michael Brown when he was running away. The cop should have arrested him instead. This is a case of racism at its worst.”

Ferguson is not the only community that is facing police brutality and racism. On Jul. 17, Staten Island police officers stopped a 43-year-old African American man named Eric Garner based on suspicions that he was participating in the sales of illegal cigarettes.

As Garner was getting arrested, Officer Daniel Pantaleo subdued him with a chokehold. Garner ended up on the ground, repeatedly stated he couldn’t breathe and died from an asthma attack. Because the grand jury in New York also decided to not indict Officer Pantaleo on criminal charges, protests broke out against the decision in New York City, Washington D.C., Chicago and Detroit. Several protesters in Detroit participated in a “die-in” on Dec. 6 near the DIA to express their frustration.

“It’s time for it to be over,” said Detroit resident Arthur Bowman III to the Detroit News. “It’s also important for us to be right out here at the police department, making sure our voices are heard and making sure they know.”

As Ferguson begins to pick up the pieces, protests against the grand jury’s findings are still taking place there and across the nation. Officer Wilson resigned on Nov. 29 in light of threats against his police department. Even though he is clear of facing state charges, Wilson may still face a wrongful death civil lawsuit from the Brown family.

The Department of Justice is investigating whether or not Brown and Garner had their civil rights violated.