Ferguson, MO – A group of national faith leaders in Ferguson for the one-year anniversary events of the murder of Mike Brown and Ferguson Uprising lament the continued assault on an already traumatized and hurting community. Today, PICO National Network, Urban Cusp, and Samuel Dewitt Proctor Conference released the following statement:
The events of August 9, 2015, that marked exactly one year to the date that Mike Brown was murdered, are deeply upsetting and troubling. There continues to be a lack of police coordination, transparency and measured response to protests and acts of civil disobedience, deteriorating even more at night under the cover of darkness. One year later, there is still the use of police dogs, armored tanks, chemical agents and flash bang grenades. The continued use of military style tactics to respond to large gatherings of African Americans is deeply problematic, immoral, and un-American.
On this anniversary, a man was shot by unidentifiable plain-clothed police officers in Ferguson, leaving the majority of media to describe the one-year anniversary events as “a peaceful protest turned violent” This is irresponsible journalism and reporting considering all of the unanswered questions about what happened last night but most importantly the man shot was not a protest participant and the shooting was separate from the protest. There are many questions still to be answered. Who are these supposed unidentifiable plain-clothed police officers? If they were in the process of making an arrest, did they identify themselves? Why would a young man supposedly fleeing from police run away from the large crowd, making himself more isolated and vulnerable? We continue our yearlong call for the demilitarization of policing of communities of color.
We call for measures to deescalate responses to nonviolent civil disobedience and protest. Law enforcement should prioritize public safety while honoring the dignity, humanity and constitutional rights of civilians. We call on the Department of Justice and the federal government to use all mechanisms at their disposal to put an end to militarized policing, over policing and the unnecessary use of lethal force. We believe these mechanisms include defunding of police agencies, ending the 1033 Program, and removing militaristic weapons from local police departments, and expanding the capacity to provide oversight and patterns and practices investigations. We continue to stand with the community of Ferguson and the greater St. Louis region to demonstrate non-violence protest and expressions of freedom to assemble in the midst of daily police terror and arbitrary violence.
Supporting faith leaders include Pastor Michael McBride, PICO National Network; Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III, Pastor of Trinity UCC in Chicago; Rev. Tony Lee of Community of Hope AME Church, Temple Hills, Md; and Pastor Freddy Haynes of Friendship-West Baptist Church, Dallas, TX. They can be reached via Heather Cabral, firstname.lastname@example.org.