November 27, 2014

NAACP organizes “Journey for Justice” march to Missouri’s capital

Preparations are being made for the NAACP’s upcoming 120 mile, 7 day march entitled “Journey for Justice: Ferguson to Jefferson City.”  The march is in response to the grand jury decision not to indict Darren Wilson for the shooting of Michael Brown Jr.

It includes members of the Youth and College division along with senior and youth organizations.

The march starts on Saturday, November 29th at 7am near the Canfield Green Apartments where Michael Brown Jr. was shot and will end Saturday, December 6th at the Governor’s Mansion.

NAACP President Cornell William Brooks (Photo Courtesy of Twitter @CornellWBrooks)

NAACP President Cornell William Brooks (Photo Courtesy of Twitter @CornellWBrooks)

Marchers are directing the call for new leadership in the Ferguson police department and new reforms of police practice and culture to elected officials in Missouri and across the United States.

Teachings and rallies will be held on the evenings of the march and will be open to the public.

NAACP says the event will be peaceful.

“You cannot honor Michael Brown as the victim of violence, with more violence,” said NAACP President Cornell William Brooks.

Organizers say they are drawing inspiration from the historic Selma to Montgomery march. In 1965, Martin Luther King led thousands of nonviolent demonstrators to the steps of the capitol in Alabama in response to the shooting of Jimmie Lee Jackson by a state trooper.

“Here we are 50 years later taking on the fight of and the battle against racial profiling and unjust policing in our communities” said Brooks.

The “Journey for Justice: Ferguson to Jefferson City” march will take place along this route.

 

Law enforcement: last night better than Monday night in Ferguson

Police say violence on the second night in the St. Louis region since Monday’s grand jury decision has not been as intense as that on the first.

Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson (left) and St. Louis County Police Chief John Belmar

Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson (left) and St. Louis County Police Chief John Belmar

St. Louis County Police Chief John Belmar says that’s been due in part to the increased National Guard presence from Monday night to Tuesday night. 700 National Guard soldiers had been deployed to Ferguson on Monday and that number was more than tripled, to 2,200, last night.

Belmar says with the Guard there in a support role, more police officers and highway patrol troopers could deal with the demonstrators that turned violent.

“Generally I think it’s fair to say the officers acted with an incredible amount of bearing and discipline tonight,” Belmar told the media in a briefing early this morning. “We saw some protesters out there that were really out there for the right reason. Unfortunately there seems to be a few people that are bent on, I think, preventing this from happening the most ideal way that it possibly could.”

Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson also credited some demonstrators.

“A lot of the protesters that came out for peaceful protests actually were assisting us,” Johnson said.

St. Louis County Police say 44 people were arrested Tuesday night into Wednesday morning. At least one of those was related to a weapon and another, to assaults on police. Two guns and one Molotov cocktail were also seized and one police car was burned last night.

Windows were also broken at some locations, including the Ferguson City Hall.

“That happens also to be the only place we deployed tear gas this evening,” said Belmar.

Violent protests and looting, as well as some peaceful protests, have happened since August 9 when 18-year-old Michael Brown was fatally shot by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. They increased in scope and intensity after the announcement Monday night that a St. Louis County grand jury would not indict Wilson for that shooting.

Michael Brown’s parents reject Darren Wilson account of shooting

The parents of Michael Brown have said they don’t believe the account of their son’s death given by the police officer that shot him.

Michael Brown's parents, Lesley McSpadden and Michael Brown, Senior, spoke on CBS's This Morning about their reaction to officer Darren Wilson's account of his fatal shooting of their son on August 9.

Michael Brown’s parents, Lesley McSpadden and Michael Brown, Senior, spoke on CBS’s This Morning about their reaction to officer Darren Wilson’s account of his fatal shooting of their son on August 9.

Darren Wilson gave an exclusive interview to ABC’s George Stephanopoulos in which he said Brown was aggressive toward him, had punched him and was charging at him when he fatally shot the teenager. On CBS’ This Morning, Brown’s mother, Lesley McSpadden, rejected that.

“I don’t believe a word of it,” McSpadden said. “I know my son far too well to … he would never do anything like that. He would never provoke anyone to do anything to him and he wouldn’t do anything to anybody.”

Wilson said he acted as he was trained and was fearful for his survival when he shot Brown.

McSpadden said she doesn’t believe that, either.

“He didn’t do what he had to do, he did what he wanted to do,” she said. “I don’t think he wanted to kill my son but he wanted to kill someone.”

Brown’s parents said they have pleaded for peace and can’t be held accountable for the violence that has followed their son’s death and the decision not to indict Wilson.  They blame Governor Jay Nixon for that violence.

“I think that Nixon put it out there and infuriated those people,” she said. “On August 9 [the day Brown was shot] voice were heard about, if there weren’t an indictment, how they would react, how they would lash out, what they would do.”

They remain critical that a special prosecutor did not replace St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch on the case.

AG Holder wants to look at something else in Ferguson

Those whose had been hoping for a grand jury indictment in the Michael Brown case now pin their hopes on the Department of Justice.

Attorney General Eric Holder’s department is running two investigations. One looking into civil rights issues connected to the killing of Michael Brown Junior. The other looks at operations of the Ferguson Police Department. But the violence in the new round of Ferguson riots has him opening a third front.

Holder has asked the Community-Oriented Policing Services office to do an afater-action review that will develop a strategy to identify and isolate criminal elements from peaceful protestors.

He says the assessment is important because Ferguson’s problems are not unique. “There are other communities around the country that have these same issues that have to be dealt with,” he says, “and we at the Justice Department are determined to do all that we can to bridge these divides.”

Holder has given no timetable for completion of the Michael Brown Junior case. He says he and the St. Louis County prosecutor have been sharing information during the grand jury inquiry.

AUDIO: Holder update 6:20

Darren Wilson talks about Michael Brown shooting to ABC

Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson has given his first media interview since he fatally shot Michael Brown nearly four months ago.

Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson

Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson

In the exclusive interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, Wilson talked about what happened after, he said, he asked Michael Brown and his friend Dorian Johnson to move out of the middle of Canfield Drive, August 9.  The first segment of that interview has aired on ABC’s World News Tonight.

“I had gone to open the door and get out of the car and when I did so, as I opened the door I said, ‘Hey, come here for a minute,'” Wilson said. “That’s when [Brown] turned and said, ‘What the [expletive] are you going to do about it?’ and slammed my door shut on me.”

Wilson says he attempted to push Brown back with the door and Brown pushed it shut again, “and as I looked back at him, all of a sudden, punches start flying.”

Asked by Stephanopoulos to confirm whether he said Brown threw the first punch, Wilson says, “Yes.”

Wilson said Brown punched him on the side of the face, and said after that he was fearful for his survival. He said it was after that he pulled his gun and pointed it at Brown, and told him to get back or Wilson would shoot him.

“His response, immediately, he grabbed the top of my gun, and when he grabbed it he said, ‘You’re too much of a [expletive] to shoot me,’ and while he’s doing that I can feel his hand trying to come over my hand and get inside the trigger guard, and try and shoot me with my own gun. That’s when I pulled the trigger for the first time,” said Wilson.

He said the gun didn’t go off and was being jammed by Brown’s hand on top of it. He said he pulled the trigger a second time, “and again another click, and this time I’m like, ‘This has to work otherwise I’m going to be dead. He’s going to get this gun away from me, something’s going to happen and I’m going to be dead, so I pull a third time and it finally goes off.”

Wilson said after that Brown became angrier, and Wilson raised his gun and fired another shot.

He said he called for help and then gave chase to Brown, who he said stopped running and turned to face Wilson.

“As he does that his right hand immediately does to his waistband and his left hand is a fist at his side, and he starts charging me,” Wilson said, saying that made him question whether Brown had a weapon in his waistband.

Stephanopoulos tells Wilson, “As you know, some of the eyewitnesses have said when, at that moment he turned around, he turned around and put his hands up.”

Michael Brown

Michael Brown

“That would be uncorrect. Incorrect,” Wilson told the reporter.

Wilson said Brown then began to run toward him.

“At that time I gave myself another mental check, ‘Can I shoot this guy? Legally, can I?'” Brown said. “The question I answered myself was, ‘I have to. If I don’t, he will kill me if he gets to me.”

“Even though he’s what, 35, 40 feet away?” Stephanopoulos asked.

“Once he’s coming that direction, if he hasn’t stopped yet, when’s he going to stop?” Wilson asked in reply.

The officer continued, “After he’s coming at me and I decided to shoot I fired a series of shots and paused.” Wilson said Brown flinched, and he judged at least one of the rounds had hit him.

“After that I paused and I again yell, ‘Stop, get on the ground,’ giving him the opportunity to stop, and he ignored all the commands and he just kept running, and so after he kept running again I shot another series of shots, and at least one of those hit him because I saw the flinch.”

Wilson said Brown was about 15 feet from him and still coming, so the officer began backpedaling.

“He gets to about eight to ten feet and as he does that he kind of starts to lean forward like he’s going to tackle me, and I look down the barrel of my gun and I fired, and what I saw was his head and that’s where it went.”

“Right in the top of his head,” Stephanopoulos asked.

“Yes,” Wilson replied.

Stephanopoulos asked Wilson if he is absolutely convinced that if Michael Brown had been white, that the encounter would have played out the same way.

“Yes,” says Wilson. “No question.”

Wilson told Stephanopoulos he is sorry for the loss of life but would not do anything differently.

“You have a very clean conscience,” Stephanopoulos observed during the interview.

Wilson replied, “The reason I have a clean conscience, ’cause I know I did my job right.”

Wilson is still on paid administrative leave from the Ferguson Police Department.

ABC will air more segments from the hour-and-a-half long interview in future broadcasts.