Many Concerned Black Harvard Alumni have recently gathered in order to express our solidarity in mourning the death of Michael Brown, and commitment to justice for this young man and countless others deprived of essential liberties guaranteed to all Americans. We warmly send our condolences to Michael Brown’s family and friends, as well as the grieving citizens of Ferguson, Missouri. On August 9, 2014, Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson killed 18-year old Brown after shooting him 6 times. Many eyewitnesses observed that Brown was unarmed and did not pose a threat to the officer, nor did he attack Officer Wilson or pose any imminent danger to his persons. Furthermore, the mishandled police response has been a subject of national criticism and resulted in the Missouri Highway Patrol taking control of the protest area from the St. Louis County Police. In addition, the circumstances around the shooting have triggered Federal investigations by both the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Department of Justice (DOJ).
We demand action any time the life of an innocent American is taken, and his or her Civil Rights and Constitutionally-protected freedoms are violated. In particular, we are frustrated with the frequency at which young black males are being killed by those sworn to protect and serve. Furthermore, we are alarmed at the response of the police in Ferguson. The militarized police response undermines the notion of peaceful protest, and harkens back to dark days that stain the American legacy of freedom and justice for all. While we urge peace on the part of protestors and the police, we understand that a bellicose police presence and unwarranted police aggression is more likely to facilitate negative responses on the part of the community. There are no excuses for violence against police, businesses, and area residents, and there is also no excuse for police to abuse their power by using excessive force.
We are grateful for the energy and commitment to justice, fairness, and equality under the law, the citizens of Ferguson and Greater-St. Louis are demonstrating in peaceful community protests. Our hope is for a thorough, transparent, and just investigation into the events surrounding Mr. Brown’s death, and the upholding of basic freedoms for the protesting citizens of Ferguson, Missouri.
At this moment, Officer Darren Wilson has yet to be charged with any crime. Additionally, many in the community and around the globe are calling for the appointment of a special prosecutor to help achieve a fair trial and justice for Michael Brown. We stand with the people of Ferguson in urging that Prosecutor Bob McCulloch be removed from the case involving Michael Brown and Darren Wilson due to McCulloch’s deep relationship with the police force, mishandling of police shootings in the past, and mishandling of the case thus far. In lieu of other instances of racial profiling across the country in recent years, this issue deeply affects all Americans, and threatens to undermine the notion of liberty and freedom our great nation seeks to represent. In addition, the Ferguson authorities must ensure protestors right to peacefully assemble and stand for justice. In the future, requiring police officers to wear body cameras may prove a very useful means of securing all citizens’ rights, and protecting & serving all of our communities. In closing, the death of Michael Brown is a global issue that represents the recurring themes of tragedy and injustice that leaves our communities in peril. We hope the leadership involved will administer justice, and utilize this moment to honor Michael Brown and all that have sacrificed their lives for freedom, instilling a legacy of peace, liberty, and equal protection under the law.
The Concerned Harvard Black Alumni