“The fight is not over”

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“The fight is not over”

Reacting to Ferguson

familywebThe nation’s eyes focused on Ferguson, Missouri on the evening of Monday, November 24, after a grand jury’s decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the August shooting death of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown.

As protestors in Ferguson burned businesses and cars and also looted stores, police there attempted to keep control by hurling tear gas at demonstrators.

While chaos unfolded in Ferguson, hundreds took to the streets of New York City on Monday evening to voice their disapproval of the decision to not indict Officer Wilson.

Protestors gathered in Union Square and marched uptown to Harlem, where Rev. Al Sharpton was joined at a press conference by the family of Eric Garner, who was killed in July by NYPD officers.

Rev. Al Sharpton called the grand jury verdict an “absolute blow” and said that “the fight is not over.”

He added that the family of Michael Brown now joins other families who “collectively share the pain of having a loved one taken by law enforcement.”

Elected officials from New York City also commented on the events in Ferguson.

“While I share the disappointment and sadness felt by millions of people across America in the decision made by the grand jury in St. Louis County not to indict Officer Darren Wilson, I hope we can honor the memory of Michel Brown through peaceful protests and peaceful dialogue, instead of anger and violence,” said Congressman Charles Rangel.

“It is tragic that our country still suffers from vestiges of injustice and racial discrimination,” Rangel added.

combined“However, it is during times of turbulence when we must remain stronger and resilient to promote unity and healing within our communities. We must remember the courage of Nelson Mandela and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who taught us to rise above bitterness and hate with understanding and love.”

“There has been a travesty of justice for Michael Brown, his family, the Ferguson community and communities of color across our nation,” commented George Gresham, President of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East.

The nation’s largest healthcare union, 1199SEIU includes the mothers of Sean Bell and Ramarley Graham, both unarmed black men killed by the police, as members.

“We cannot heal as a nation until black and brown lives have the same value as all other lives in the eyes of law enforcement and the justice system,” added Gresham.

NYC-reactionwebAccording to a CNN poll released prior to the Ferguson grand jury announcement, 54 percent of non-whites — including blacks, Latinos and Asians —  indicated that they thought Officer Wilson should face charges for Brown’s death, while just 23 percent of whites agreed. Also, 38 percent of whites surveyed said Wilson should be charged with no crime at all, compared to 15 percent of non-whites.

In the Bronx, Michael Blake, Assemblyman-elect of in the 79th District, was blunt in offering his assessment of the grand jury decision.

“It is simply reprehensible and unacceptable that a grand jury decided in favor of Darren Wilson, who is able to walk away freely after he shot and killed an unarmed man,” said Blake in a statement.

“As a black man, this decision brings pain to my soul,” Blake added. “Once again, it feels that our lives are seen as less important than others. Justice is not fairly applied in communities of color across the country, plain and simple. We must now come together and commit to seeking ethical, political, legal and civil next steps for justice to be served. Yet again, another life was stolen from us and the chance for the moral arc of justice to bend fairly was stolen as well once more.”

Early on Tuesday morning, November 25, police reported a group of protestors blocking traffic on the section of the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge that connects Harlem to the Bronx.

In the Bronx’s Eastchester neighborhood, middle school students from The Cornerstone Academy for Social Action staged a protest on Steenwick Avenue.

— by Gregg McQueen