This evening, a grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri has decided not to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting of Michael Brown.
This announcement is likely to spark understandable feelings of frustration, not only in Ferguson, but across the country.
However, while many are saddened and angered by the grand jury’s decision, I urge everyone taking part in demonstrations to do so in a peaceful manner. I support the efforts of local leaders to promote non-violent expression by self-policing and elevating the voices of community members. Equally important, I believe we should respect the wishes of Michael Brown’s father, Michael Brown Sr., that all protests be conducted in a way that honors his son’s memory, rather than distract from it. It is also essential that all local, state, and federal law enforcement officials show proper restraint and respect every citizen’s constitutional right to assemble. Atlanta’s history demonstrates that we can come together and protest in a non-violent and peaceful fashion.
Going forward, I encourage the United States Department of Justice to conduct a complete review of how Michael Brown’s killing has been handled thus far. Both the Justice Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation have opened civil rights investigations, and I look forward to the release of their findings.
Finally, let’s not forget what this case is really about. It’s about the deep pain and sorrow that a mother and father have lived through since their son was killed more than three months ago. We must view this case, not just through our own eyes, but through the eyes of parents who lost a child. While this decision does not do justice to Michael Brown and his family, it serves as an opportunity for Atlanta, and the rest of the nation, to engage in a thoughtful conversation on how to build greater trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve.