On August 9th, Michael Brown, an unarmed 18 year old black male, was shot and killed by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri. On November 24th, a grand jury failed to indict Darren Wilson on any charges. While Michael Brown, a college-bound teenage boy, no longer has a future, Darren Wilson has pocketed hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations & can live his life freely.
Bring justice to Michael Brown and the hundreds of other black boys killed for the color of their skin by federally charging & fully prosecuting Darren Wilson. The grand jury decided not to indict Darren Wilson because of "conflicting evidence", which is why a trial is necessary to guarantee the legitimacy of our justice system. Darren Wilson must held accountable for the murder that he committed.
Response to Petition
Thank you for your petition on the fatal shooting of Michael Brown.
The decision whether to investigate or prosecute a potential violation of federal law rests with the Department of Justice, and the White House plays no role in this decision. The Department of Justice investigated the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by Officer Darren Wilson, and on March 4, 2015, Attorney General Holder announced that "Michael Brown's death, though a tragedy, did not involve prosecutable conduct on the part of Officer Wilson." You can review the report of the Department of Justice documenting its findings and conclusions here.
After Michael Brown's death, the Department of Justice also made the decision to have its Civil Rights Division open a civil investigation "to determine whether Ferguson Police officials have engaged in a widespread pattern or practice of violations of the U.S. Constitution or federal law." On March 4, the Department of Justice announced the findings from this investigation, including that "unlawful practices, and constitutional violations have not only severely undermined the public trust, eroded police legitimacy, and made local residents less safe -- but created an intensely charged atmosphere where people feel under assault and under siege by those charged to serve and protect them." You can find this report here.
From the beginning, this Administration has believed in the need to expand community policing and look for ways to foster trust and respect between community members and law enforcement. As just one example, this Administration has always strongly supported the Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, whose mission is to advance public safety through support for community policing.
Ferguson, of course, is not the only jurisdiction that has faced these challenges. Events in Staten Island, Cleveland, and Baltimore have brought both national and international attention to issues that have long affected too many communities in America.
As the President said following the death of Freddie Gray in April, this problem "is not new, and we shouldn't pretend that it's new."
Watch President Obama speak on the situation in Baltimore. http://t.co/T3t6ptxmaZ
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) April 28, 2015
President Obama has also been clear that the challenges facing these communities go well beyond policing. "We can't ask the police to contain and control problems that the rest of us aren't willing to face or do anything about," the President said in Camden, New Jersey this past May.
If we as a society don't do more to expand opportunity to everybody who's willing to work for it, then we'll end up seeing conflicts between law enforcement and residents. If we as a society aren't willing to deal honestly with issue of race, then we can't just expect police departments to solve these problems. If communities are being isolated and segregated, without opportunity and without investment and without jobs -- if we politicians are simply ramping up long sentences for nonviolent drug crimes that end up devastating communities, we can't then ask the police to be the ones to solve the problem when there are no able-bodied men in the community, or kids are growing up without intact households.
Our law enforcement officers have difficult and often-dangerous jobs, and we can never forget the sacrifices they make to keep our streets safe, our communities strong, and our people protected. We have heard from leaders of both law enforcement and communities that everyone is safer and better off when there is a relationship of trust and mutual respect between police and those they serve and protect -- which is why this Administration is working with cities and communities across America on initiatives and policies to improve those relationships.
Last December, President Obama launched the Task Force on 21st Century Policing -- a group of law enforcement experts, academia, youth activists, community leaders, and civil rights leaders focused on building strong and collaborative community-police relationships. Task Force members talked with community members, law enforcement officers, technical advisors, leaders of grassroots movements, and many others.
In May, the Task Force released its final report laying out best practices and recommendations for improving community/law enforcement relations. These recommendations include providing opportunities for more training for police at all levels, new initiatives to increase transparency and accountability, putting policies in place that prioritize de-escalation and avoid provocative tactics, and improving the safety and wellness of our law enforcement officers.
As the President explained when he spoke in Camden, the Task Force report lays out concrete proposals that every community in America can implement to rebuild trust and help law enforcement. But for these proposals to have an impact, the approximately 18,000 state and local law enforcement agencies throughout the country must put them into practice. We are committed to using the tools available to the federal government to support the great work that's happening at the local level where cities are already responding to these recommendations -- and to encourage others to follow their lead. As one example, we've launched a Police Data Initiative that is working with nearly two dozen innovative jurisdictions who are using data to strengthen their work and are making themselves accountable by sharing it with the public.
In addition, the President has called for expanded use of body-worn cameras; he has asked Congress to provide financial support for state and local acquisition of cameras and related technology through the Administration's fiscal year 2016 budget; the Department of Justice has released an approximately $20 million body-worn camera solicitation; and the Department of Justice has created a body-worn camera toolkit to help jurisdictions institute appropriate polices.
And the President has taken steps through the recommendations of the Law Enforcement Equipment Working Group, which has now completed an extensive review of federal programs that support the transfer of equipment to state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies. There is now a unified list of prohibited equipment that may not be acquired under any of the various programs and a unified list of equipment that law enforcement may acquire only in accordance with new and more rigorous controls. On the basis of that review, the Administration also put in place a series of measures to enhance accountability, increase transparency, and better serve the needs of law enforcement and local communities.
The steps we've taken so far, working with federal, state and local law enforcement and civil rights advocates, represent critical progress, but solving the problem will require more than these recommendations. It will require everyone understanding how important and significant this problem is -- and it will require everyone doing their part to fix it.
The President firmly believes that these goals are achievable and that "[i]f our society really wanted to solve the problem, we could -- it's just that it would require everybody saying, 'This is important, this is significant.'"
Again, thank you for signing this petition and speaking out -- and we will keep working to make sure that America's justice system, in each and every community, is truly just.
If you want to dig deeper, listen to some excerpts from a conversation we held in May on community policing:
On the Task Force on 21st Century Policing:
On the Police Data Initiative:
On making sure police are seen as guardians instead of occupiers:
Follow @WeThePeople on Twitter all day long for a series of Q+As with various Administration officials on the petition responses we released today.