The Black Law Students Association at Yale Law School has denounced with "sadness, outrage, and indignation" the failure to indict the former Ferguson, Missouri, police officer who shot and killed unarmed teenager Michael Brown. The group's full statement, provided to HuffPost, appears below:
We, the students of Yale Law School’s Black Law Students Association (YBLSA), have come together to express our irrepressible sadness, outrage, and indignation at Monday’s announcement that police officer Darren Wilson will not be indicted in the murder of Michael Brown.
We are sad because the grand jury’s refusal to indict was an example of the manner in which the criminal justice system continually refuses to provide relief to Black people in America. We are sad because the popular expression, “A system cannot fail those whom it is not designed to protect,” has only gained further credence among communities who are already inclined to distrust police. Yet again, a law enforcement official walks away without the possibility of being punished after brutally executing a Black person. The failure of our justice system to consider even nominal punishment has sent a hostile message to racial minorities throughout the country, and has made a mockery of our so-called “post-racial” society. We are sad because regardless of societal progress, the lives of members of our community -- our lives -- seem to be worth less than the lives of our fellow countrymen, by virtue of the shade of our skin alone.
We are outraged to see that separate and unequal codes of conduct, nightmares we hoped were relegated to our forefathers’ generations, persist today. We are outraged because, somehow, it is permissible in a legal proceeding in 2014 to describe an unarmed young Black man as “a demon,” reviving the same racialized stereotypes that justified Southern Redemption, Jim Crow, and other forms of racial domination. This description stripped Michael Brown not only of his humanity, even in death, but also of the justice due to him. He deserved better. So do we.
We are outraged because of the frequency with which Black lives are being taken by armed law enforcement or self-appointed armed citizens. We are outraged to see our sons, daughters, sisters, and brothers -- us -- so frequently gunned down by a militarized police state while the justice system idly watches. In the 100 days we anxiously awaited justice for Mike Brown Jr., the names of Tamir Rice, Tanisha Anderson, Akai Gurley, Ezell Ford, and Omar Abrego were added to this growing list of victims. We are indignant because the legal system was not only idle in responding to the heinous wrong done to Michael Brown Jr. but also complicit in its cover-up. All that was asked is that Officer Wilson stand trial for the killing of an unarmed teenager. However, St. Louis County [Prosecuting] Attorney Robert McCulloch acted as Officer Wilson’s defender, pointing out inconsistencies in witness testimony and physical evidence, instead of acting as an advocate for the state and by extension, Michael Brown. We are indignant because a prosecutor’s job in the grand jury process is not to cross-examine witnesses whose testimony supports an indictment, yet fail to do the same while the defendant justifies pumping six rounds into an unarmed Black body. We are indignant that the calls for Mr. McCulloch to recuse himself on account of, among other things, his documented bias in favor of police officers’ use of force fell on deaf ears. We are indignant because the laxity of both state and federal laws on use of force by police officials almost assures continued, legally-sanctioned slaughter. We are indignant because we have waited for thousands of indictments and convictions and they have never come.
We, YBLSA, hope that all who love peace, yearn for equality, and seek truth will stand with us in denouncing this decision and the tainted method by which it was secured. In this, we stand with the National Bar Association, the ACLU of Missouri, and other organizations that have voiced similar concerns. We all decry the discrimination perpetuated by our legal system. It is our duty as lawyers, citizens, and Black Americans to reform it.
We demand a swift indictment of Darren Wilson at the federal level as the start of the redress.
Furthermore, we demand that states and localities review their procedures for subduing alleged assailants. Unarmed men and women should be subdued by force equivalent to the threat that they pose and officers who use excessive force should be put on notice that they shall be prosecuted. Police officer safety is a priority, but it is not the law’s only or primary concern. We also demand a change in federal and state laws that allow justifiable homicide to be pegged to the abysmally low and racially variable standard of “feeling” threatened.
In sum, we demand justice for Michael Brown and all those who have perished by like means.
The 2014-2015 Members of the Yale Law School Black Law Students Association