For Immediate Release
St. Louis Activists Decry Grand Jury Decision in Eric Garner Death
Ferguson, MO - he Don’t Shoot Coalition, a coalition of approximately 50 St. Louis area organizations formed in the wake of the police shooting death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown, released the following statement in response to yesterday’s announcement that a grand jury in New York refused to indict
Members of the Don’t Shoot Coalition in St. Louis are outraged by a Staten Island grand jury’s decision not to bring criminal charges in the death of Eric Garner, a black man who died after being placed in a chokehold by a white police officer.
“It is clear that the law enforcement and judicial systems do not respect Black lives,” said Don’t Shoot Coalition Co-Chair Michael T. McPhearson, Executive Director of Veterans for Peace. “This is further confirmation that unarmed and non-threatening people can be killed by police with impunity. Eric Garner posed no threat to anyone; he was subdued and eventually killed in a chokehold, a technique banned by NYC policies. Yet, no one is being held accountable for this his death.”
“The decision illustrates the fact that the death of Michael Brown Jr. and the lack of police accountability is not isolated to Ferguson MO,” said Montague Simmons, Chair of the Organization for Black Struggle and a member of the Don’t Shoot Coalition. “This decision and so many others like it across the nation shows that law enforcement can use unwarranted deadly force without fear of discipline. This is why 170 cities protested in solidarity with the people of Ferguson after the decision to allow Darren Wilson to walk free of accountability for killing Michael Brown. Communities around the country face this same injustice and have decided it is time to demand change, work for change and make the change happen.”
“The Don’t Shoot Coalition stands in solidarity with Eric Garner’s family in calling for justice,” said Don’t Shoot Coalition Co-Chair Denise Lieberman, a senior attorney with Advancement Project. “We pledge to continue the struggle for justice for Mike Brown and other cases of police brutality in the St. Louis region, an end to ongoing racial profiling across the St. Louis region and accountability for police practices and policies, including effective civilian oversight and review of shootings and other allegations of police misconduct.
“The movement sparked by Michael Brown's death will continue. The Don’t Shoot Coalition will not be swayed. We will keep up the struggle and see it through until the change we all seek is accomplished. “
The murder of Michael Brown and its aftermath have exposed the ongoing crisis of police-on-black crime. As we work toward justice for the Brown family, we must also address the ongoing systemic problems of police practices in black, brown and all oppressed communities. We come together as diverse local organizations to speak with one voice, so that the greater St. Louis area can become a model for justice for all across the United States.