Controversial decision in Michael Brown case results in riots
By Mercedes Deutscher, Staff Writer
On November 24, a grand jury in St. Louis County, Missouri ruled that Officer Darren Wilson would not be indicted on murder charges. The decision resulted in violent riots throughout the area.
Wilson fatally shot Michael Brown, 18, on August 9 in Ferguson, Missouri. Wilson alleged that Brown attacked him before attempting to flee.
Brown was accompanied by his friend, Dorian Johnson, who was not injured.
Many have alleged based on security footage from a convenience store that Brown and Johnson had stolen a box of cigarillos shortly before Brown was killed. Others allege that the security footage is unclear and inconclusive. Still others state that Brown’s killing was unrelated to the alleged robbery, as Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson stated in August that Brown was stopped by Wilson for “blocking traffic.”
The circumstances under which Brown was shot are widely disputed. While there are reports that Wilson and Brown engaged in an altercation leading up to the shooting, many witnesses have stated Brown raised his hands in surrender prior to being shot.
The case has received widespread media attention due to social claims that the shooting and police response were based on racism, similar to the case of Trayvon Martin in 2012. The event has heightened racial tensions in Ferguson, where a majority of the city’s population is African-American.
In order to indict Wilson on murder charges, the grand jury would have had to rule more than 9-3 in favour of the indictment.
As a precaution prior to the jury’s decision being released, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon called upon 400 National Guard troops and declared a state of emergency.
Brown’s parents pleaded with the public to not create a violent situation as a result of the verdict.
After the decision was made public, protesters took to days of rioting in Ferguson and, as of November 27, over 400 people have reportedly been arrested.
On November 25, President Barack Obama responded to the rioting, saying “I have no sympathy at all for destroying your own communities.” He proceeded to offer words of comfort to those frustrated by the decision:
“…they [citizens of Ferguson] get a sense that some communities aren’t treated fairly or some individuals aren’t seen as worthy as others. And I want to work with you, and I want to move forward with you.”
In his first public response to the case, Wilson told ABC News, “I don’t think it’s haunting. It’s always going to be something that happened. The reason I have a clean conscience is that I know I did my job right.”