Tag: Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson

Congressional Staffers Walk Out of U.S. Capitol in Protest of Police Killings

congress walkout

WASHINGTON — Dozens of congressional staffers walked out of their offices Thursday afternoon to show solidarity with demonstrators who are protesting the decisions not to indict police officers who killed Eric Garner in New York and Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

Just after 3:30 p.m., the staffers stood on the steps of the U.S. Capitol with their hands raised in the “hands up, don’t shoot” gesture. In interviews, the staffers said they felt the need to express their support for demonstrators calling for police accountability for officers who take the lives of unarmed black men and women.

“We’re coming out here to let them know, no, it’s not business as usual, our lives matter, we’re asserting our humanity and our dignity,” one congressional staffer told The Huffington Post.

“Even though we go to work in these prestigious buildings among prestigious people, we go home and we’re still profiled, we still are part of those statistics,” the staffer added. “It could have been any one of us who was Eric Garner, who was Mike Brown.”

Most staffers did not speak to the press, and none who did agreed to give their names.

Another staffer said that while there may be longterm changes that come about as a result of the protest movement, it was important to assert that it was wrong to allow police officers to take lives without being held accountable.

“They want to put cameras on police officers, which is a great idea, but the Eric Garner case was seen on live TV; the entire world saw it,” said one young black congressional staffer who participated in the walkout. “President Obama said protests are necessary. This is a necessary protest.”

congress walkout

Rep. Joaquín Castro (D-Texas), who took part in the demonstration, said the protest represented “the best of American democracy.” He said he hoped the effort had bipartisan support, and pointed out that a majority of Americans now support some reforms, like having body cameras on police, even in places “thought to be conservative,” like Texas.

The walkout was planned by the Congressional Black Associates, the Congressional Asian Pacific American Staff Association and the Congressional Hispanic Staff Association.

article by Dana Liebelson and Ryan J. Reilly via huffingtonpost.com

Ferguson Police Department to Seek More Black Recruits; No Severance for Darren Wilson

March from Ferguson to Jefferson City
NAACP members and supporters pass by an auto parts store in Ferguson, Mo., that was destroyed by rioters as they walk Saturday on the first day of a planned seven-day, 120-mile march to the governor’s mansion in Jefferson City, Missouri’s capital. (Scott Olson / Getty Images)

Knowles spoke at a news conference a day after Darren Wilson, the officer who fatally shot Michael Brown on Aug. 9, resigned from the police force. Wilson did not receive severance pay, Knowles said.

Also Sunday, the White House announced that President Obama would hold several Ferguson-related events Monday.  Obama will meet with his Cabinet to discuss federal programs and funding that provide equipment to state and local law enforcement agencies.  Then he will meet with civil rights leaders and later with law enforcement officials and community and faith leaders “to discuss how communities and law enforcement can work together to build trust,” the White House said.

In Ferguson, the mayor said that adding a civilian review board and recruiting more African Americans would help improve the predominantly white police department’s relationship with Ferguson’s predominantly African American residents.

“We are committed to rebuilding our city,” Knowles said. “And a part of that is having officers invested in the community.”

In addition, Knowles said, the city will unveil a program in public schools that will aim to forge a bond between police officers and young people.

“We are here for you and will not leave you,” Knowles told residents.

For much of the last week, sometimes-violent protests have roiled the St. Louis suburb of about 21,000 after the grand jury’s decision.

When Wilson resigned Saturday, he said in a letter that he was told his “continued employment may put the residents and police officers of the city of Ferguson at risk.”

“It is my hope that my resignation will allow the community to heal,” Wilson wrote. “I would like to thank all of my supporters and fellow officers throughout this process.”

Wilson’s lawyer, Neil Bruntrager, said the officer had resigned after learning of threats of violence against other officers and the department.  Knowles said Sunday he was unaware of any specific threats to Wilson and did not give him a deadline for a resignation.

Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson said Sunday he would not resign, despite widespread criticism from protesters and calls for him to step down.  “My focus has been on safety and security of citizens,” Jackson said. “I report to the leadership of Ferguson. I’m concerned about the city. I will not resign.”

Jackson said he spoke with Wilson last week and was unaware of any specific threats to him. But Jackson added, “It’s been a threatening environment all along. Everybody knows that.”

Separately, Benjamin Crump, a lawyer representing Brown’s family, said Sunday that Wilson’s resignation was no surprise.

“The family will pursue all the legal avenues,” Crump told CBS’ “Face the Nation.” Crump said a wrongful-death lawsuit could be filed in the near future.

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