I expect most of you have heard on the news about Ferguson, MO, where a grand jury declined to indict — i.e. put to trial — a white police officer who shot and killed an unarmed Black teenager on Aug. 9. For the record, grand juries almost always indict:
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. attorneys prosecuted 162,000 federal cases in 2010, the most recent year for which we have data. Grand juries declined to return an indictment in 11 of them. (source)
This is not an isolated incident: police frequently shoot unarmed Black suspects and are rarely prosecuted for it.
Here are some things you can do to help:
- If you’re a U.S. resident, write to your representative/senator to ask for body cameras on police. This way there is always an unbiased record of police actions, to protect citizens and cops. Here is an example letter and here is where you can find out who represents you.
- Donate to the Ferguson public library. (Paypal donation button at upper right of website.) While Ferguson schools are closed today — Tuesday — the library is staying open to give kids a place to go. And in general, libraries are a public good, and an especially good thing for low-income children.
To help the Ferguson protestors and the Brown family directly, you can:
- Donate to the protestors’ legal defense fund.
- Sign a petition calling for the federal authorities to pursue criminal proceedings against Darren Wilson, the accused officer.
If anyone has a correction or something they’d like to add, comments are welcome. Please also feel free to link and share.