Students were greatly disappointed Monday night following the decision in the Ferguson case, which has sparked discussions about race relations and protests across the country.
More than four months after the death of black 18-year-old Michael Brown, the grand jury in Missouri chose to not indict officer Darren Wilson, the white police officer who shot Brown. The decision was made by the early afternoon, but the prosecutors in Ferguson, Mo. did not announce it publicly until almost half past 9 p.m. Eastern Time on Nov. 24.
An indictment is not a finding of guilt or innocence for a person, but rather a judgment made on whether criminal charges should be brought against that person.
“For me personally, it is disappointing and disheartening, and it speaks to a system that continually fails to protect all of its citizens,” said College senior Keishawn Johnson, who is the president of Penn’s chapter for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
UMOJA co-chair elect and College sophomore Ray Clark agreed, writing via text, “As a black male who is only one year older than Michael Brown, I am seriously questioning our worth within American society at this point.”
While there were no public protests on campus, there were in other parts of the city. Photos showed rows of police bikes by City Hall this afternoon and many police cars by Temple University’s main campus in North Philadelphia. Members of Students Organizing for Unity and Liberation joined protests late on Monday night.
After the announcement, hundreds of protesters marched downtown, starting from City Hall. All the while, they were chanting slogans like “No f---ing justice. No f---ing peace.” and “F--- the police,” according to reporters on Twitter. Mayor Michael Nutter held a press conference at City Hall at 11 p.m., noting that officials in Ferguson “botched this entire tragedy” from the beginning in the way they handled the situation.
“It’s very disheartening. If we really take a look at the situation, we’re not talking about a conviction; we’re just talking about the ability to get to the bottom of what happened,” Johnson said.
Twitter user Lucas D’Agostino told The Daily Pennsylvanian the decision was “tragic” and that “racism and oppression continue to dominate in the U.S.”
What perhaps is most telling is that this did not come as a surprise to some students.
“I wanted to believe in America,” said College senior Kyle Webster, the president of Onyx Senior Honor Society, though he was “ready” for tonight’s decision. “I didn’t want to experience it, but I was ready for it. This is once again an affirmation about the value of marginalized communities in America,” that they do not matter, he said.
The shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown has stayed in the national consciousness for more than four months now, bringing to light conversations about police brutality and systematic inequality and discrimination against blacks in America to the mainstream media.
On campus, it has resulted in countless discussions among student groups as well as action — such as the creation of the Black Ivy League coalition and the Ferguson Friday demonstrations of SOUL.
Managing Editor Amanda Suarez contributed reporting.
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