Memphians Oppose Missouri Grand Jury Decision, Plan Protest

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After months of deliberation, a Missouri grand jury decided Monday that Darren Wilson, the Ferguson police officer responsible for fatally shooting unarmed teen Michael Brown in August, would not be indicted.

The decision reportedly sparked protests in Ferguson, Chicago, New York, Oakland, Washington, D.C., and Seattle.

Protests are also slated to take place in Memphis.

This evening, locals opposed to the grand jury’s decision will hold a peaceful demonstration at the intersection of Poplar and Highland. The protest is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m.

Representatives from Mid-South Youth Collective, Enough is Enough Memphis, and The Brotherhood & Sisterhood are spearheading the gathering, which seeks to help cease the use of excessive force by law enforcement and racial profiling.

“The unjust murder of Michael Brown Jr. is only a small glimpse into growing issues surrounding police violence,” said Sha’ona Coleman of the Mid-South Youth Collective in a statement. “The use of excessive force on unarmed black and brown people of color in America has been increasing. We have to challenge and address the system of how white supremacy in America shapes rules and regulations of our police departments. There is no reason I should fear the people that are put in place to protect me.”

In the light of the possibility that violent protests would occur following the Missouri grand jury's announcement, Memphis Police Department (MPD) had its day shift officers work later to increase available manpower on Monday night. However, things remained peaceful. 

“I anticipate the citizens of our great city to exercise their right to free speech and demonstrate in wake of the Ferguson, Missouri's grand jury decision not to indict; however, it is expected that our citizens will do so in a lawful manner,” said MPD Director Toney Armstrong in a statement. “The Memphis Police Department will be visible during such demonstrations and in the unlikely event that unlawful conduct arises, the men and women of this Department are prepared to take the necessary action to prevent violence and maintain public safety. While the public has the right to demonstrate, by no means will violence and lawlessness be tolerated.”

On August 9th, Wilson, 28, reportedly stopped Brown and his friend Dorian Johnson as they walked down the middle of a two-lane street. While in his Chevrolet Tahoe police vehicle, Wilson requested for the two to get on the sidewalk. After an exchange of words, a tussle ensued between Wilson and Brown.

During the struggle, Wilson’s weapon was reportedly un-holstered and discharged inside his SUV, according to an autopsy obtained by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. After being grazed in the hand by one of the bullets, Brown began to run up the street; Wilson chased after him.

Brown eventually turned around and started charging toward Wilson, according to reports. Wilson then reportedly drew his weapon and discharged it 10 times at Brown. The 18-year-old high school graduate was struck multiple times, including in the head, chest, and right arm, according to the autopsy.

Brown’s death sparked months of protests and looting in Ferguson, along with a public outcry against police brutality and racial injustice.

The U.S. Department of Justice is currently in the process of investigating whether Wilson violated Brown’s civil rights as well as the practices of the Ferguson Police Department.


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