Missouri Grand Jury Shows Impact of Systemic Racism

Those who pay the cost of these policies are often young people of color – and with alarming frequency that cost is death at the hands of police. Ominously, police increasingly rely on militarized tactics and weapons not only to arrest but to contain people exercising their right to assemble and peacefully protest.

A Statement by The American Friends Service Committee

Now that the grand jury has decided not to indict police officer Darren Wilson who killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, people across the country are justifiably seeking answers. The American Friends Service Committee also is seeking clarity in this case.

We remain committed to addressing the issues of militarization of police, police accountability and systemic racism revealed by the killing and its aftermath. If we are to prevent future tragedies, people everywhere should join us in these efforts.

Those who pay the cost of these policies are disproportionally young people of color – and with alarming frequency that cost is death at the hands of police. Ominously, local police increasingly rely on militarized tactics and weapons not only to arrest but to contain people exercising their right to assemble and peacefully protest such tragedies as the Mike Brown killing.

Weeks before today’s announcement, Missouri police and elected officials began stockpiling riot gear and “less lethal” weapons to respond to public protest. We urge protesters to resist provocations such as armored trucks, dogs, and blockades staffed by officers in military garb.

We urge police officials to seek dialogue with those they swore to protect and serve, to find common ground and peaceful paths forward.

Throughout our decades of work on social justice and human rights in the U.S. and around the world, we have witnessed the effectiveness of such dialogue and exchange programs. We are proud of the young people with whom we work in Missouri, who are using peaceful means to work for fundamental change in systems that perpetuate racism and inequality. They deserve both applause and help for their leadership in healing and organizing their communities. We urge all people of good will to join us in supporting peace-building programs for these young people.

Starting just days after the shooting, AFSC has been helping youth process the killing of one of their peers through our two-year-old Peace Education Program working in Ferguson and St. Louis. We are standing with teachers and families, with the community organizations protesting, and with the family of Mike Brown.

Artwork by Tiffany Sankary

Artwork by Tiffany Sankary

 

Most of all, we heed and support their vision of what democracy looks like: It looks like police accountability. It looks like equal access. It looks like an end to mass incarceration. It looks like the dismantling of the school-to-prison pipeline. It looks like the demilitarization of police.

As a Quaker organization that believes in the worth of every person, we call on people everywhere to join us in addressing the systemic and structural racism at the roots of Mike Brown’s death – and that of so many others nationwide.

We need to challenge policies – at every level, from the school house to the State House, from Missouri to Washington DC – that disproportionately incarcerate people of color and boost profits for corporations running jails, prisons and immigration detention centers. We also must challenge media when they stigmatize youth of color instead of acknowledging their humanity.

Our nation will only prosper when we invest in all our children. Join us as we work to end militarized policing and the systemic racism that endangers youth of color and thus threatens our common future.

A Life Consecrated to Compassion and Justice

On the bleak streets of the Tenderloin, a sister took a stand against inhumanity. Her solidarity was inspired by the beatitudes and consecrated to the poor.

The Invisible Natural Cathedral of People’s Park

Builders, please go away. Allow the beauty of an Invisible Natural Cathedral to remain, a living shrine of open space that gives refuge to all people.

Street Spirit Interview with Sister Bernie Galvin

This atrocity was happening in a very wealthy city. It was happening right under our noses. It was very visible. And there was not the united voice of the faith community speaking out. That was the spark of Religious Witness. From that moment, I knew what I had to do.

Interview with Sister Bernie Galvin, Part Two

“What’s forming in my mind is Jesus in the temple when he became angry at the unjust and very exclusive systems of society. That is the very reason that there are the poor and the marginalized. It is not enough just to provide food, clothing and housing.”

‘Such Is the Magic and Spirit of People’s Park’

The mayor has no understanding of the awful defeat the loss of People’s Park would be. No comprehension of the cost in lives and the sacrifices people have made for the Park’s ideals. So many still find it a refuge in a country needing a political and spiritual overhaul.

I Remember Who I Am

“And Now Where?” Lithograph by Rockwell Kent

By and by, I calm down. I meditate. I pray. It is a beautiful day. The sun is setting. I weave my way toward the spot where I sleep, where nobody knows where to find me. I look to the stars, and say my prayers to the God who believes in Me.