The cries of protestors were loud and stark on this grey Tuesday afternoon:
“No justice! No peace!”
“No justice! No peace!”
Over 300 people turned up to voice their anger, frustration and incredulity in response to the St. Louis County grand jury’s decision not to bring any of five possible indictments – ranging from negligible manslaughter to intentional murder – against white police officer Darren Wilson in the killing of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in August.
The call-and-response refrain “Hands up! Don’t shoot!” rang out during much of the hour long march. One protestor’s hand-drawn sign was emblazoned: “Ferguson is not just about one bad cop.” Many read: “Kneel down for Michael Brown.” Another was scrawled in thick and adamant marker: “Stop Racism.”
As the huge mass of people, mostly dressed in black, moved through the streets of downtown Colorado Springs, stopped cars, pedestrians and shoppers looked on – some voicing support, some jeering.
“[Mike Brown] robbed a convenient store!” yelled one onlooker in the face of the protestors, who marched on without paying him so much as a glance. The demonstrators, who began on the campus of Colorado College, travelled a loop of around 15 blocks before returning to the central flagpole on campus where several impassioned students delivered some rousing words through a megaphone to the gathered crowd.
Meanwhile, Ferguson, Missouri is literally smoldering in the aftermath of the decision and protests have ignited in dozens of other cities across the country.
The outpouring of anger comes in response to the not wholly unexpected decision that “no probable cause exists” to put Officer Darren Wilson on trial for the August shooting incident which left 18-year-old Mike Brown dead on the streets of his hometown, riddled with at least six bullets.
The grand jurors heard 25 days worth of testimony from more than 60 witnesses over the past three months since the shooting. Though all of the evidence the jury reviewed has yet to be publicly disclosed, county prosecutor Robert P. McCulloch did release Officer Wilson’s hours long testimony about what exactly happened the day of Aug. 9 – an account that keeps changing and is vastly different from many other eyewitness’s.
According to the Bureau of Justice statistics, the decision not to indict is very, very rare: in 2010, U.S. attorneys prosecuted 162,000 federal cases. Only in 11 of those did the grand jury decline to bring an indictment. Anthony L. Fischer at the Hit & Run blog graciously did the math here, pointing out that this means that grand juries don’t deliver an indictment only 0.0067901 percent of the time.
That’s why a former New York state Chief Judge once said that a prosecutor could persuade a grand jury to “indict a ham sandwich.”
Today marks the first day of Ferguson Action, which lists its demands here.
The protest in Colorado Springs was organized by the Black Student Union of Colorado College.
photo of Trina Reynolds-Tyler, taken by Nat Stein