Pax Christi USA is deeply disappointed and saddened by the grand jury decision not to indict Office Darren Wilson in the murder of Michael Brown of Ferguson, Missouri. An indictment would have moved the process of justice forward, allowing Officer Wilson to be tried by a jury of his peers and the events that led to the death of Michael Brown fully considered. It is our opinion that the failure to indict is another failure of the justice system in protecting the rights of people of color in our nation.
Pax Christi USA stands with the people of Ferguson and Michael Brown’s family in the hope for a nonviolent resolution to a volatile situation. The people of Ferguson, as well as communities of color all across our country, are rightfully angry, and they have a right to peacefully demonstrate and to demand further action. Protestors have a right to engage without militarized intimidation from law enforcement. Police have a duty to nonviolently help to defuse tension where necessary, without recourse to overtly militant and provocative actions, including the use of tear gas and pepper spray. All citizens have the right to expect that their homes, churches and businesses will be safe from raids, destruction and looting.
Pax Christi USA joins the throng of voices, led by the organization ColorOfChange, asking President Obama, Attorney General Holder and the Department of Justice to take action so that justice may be served for Michael Brown and his family. We encourage our members and all people of good will to take part in actions to increase public pressure to see that justice is done.
We call for the demilitarization of our civilian police forces. We call for the creation and empowerment of citizen review boards which can engage in police investigations in a robust manner and hold police accountable for the safety of all communities. As our brothers and sisters at ColorOfChange have pointed out, law enforcement in the United States kills Black Americans at nearly the same rate as Jim Crow-era lynchings (see http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/aug/25/mike-brown-shooting-jim-crow-lynchings-in-common). The casual disregard for the lives of the poor, especially young black men, should be an affront to all of us who believe that human beings are created in the image and likeness of God.
Most of all, we mourn, as our chapter in St. Louis so eloquently has stated, “the lack of clear accountability for the taking of a young man’s life.” We join with Pax Christi St. Louis and others in calling every citizen in our nation to take thoughtful and prayerful action to end systemic racism and structural oppression, locally and nationally. Such actions would be an apt legacy for Michael Brown and all those who have been systemically marginalized in our communities and paid for that marginalization with their lives.