Black Activists Comment on Washington Post Report that Federal Civil Rights Charges Will Not Be Filed Against Darren Wilson in Death of Michael Brown
Washington, DC - Activists with the Project 21 black leadership network say a new Washington Post report that the Eric Holder-led Department of Justice will not charge Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson with federal civil rights charges in the shooting death of Michael Brown is evidence that the time has come for healing.
"Protestors called for the Eric Holder-led Justice Department to investigate this case. It seems to have concluded its investigation. What more is there to protest?" asked Project 21's Christopher Arps, who lives near Ferguson and attended perhaps the first prayer vigil related to the shooting. "It is now time to begin the healing process."
Although the Justice Department will not confirm it, a law enforcement official said to have been briefed on the federal investigation told Sari Horwitz and Kimberly Kindy of the Washington Post: "The evidence at this point does not support civil rights charges against Officer Wilson." Another unnamed source in law enforcement told the Post: "The evidence we have makes federal civil rights charges unlikely."
"Eric Holder's 'Department of Injustice' has concluded its civil rights investigation into Darren Wilson. Like the phony civil rights case against George Zimmerman, it should never have commenced," said Project 21 Co-Chairman Horace Cooper, a legal commentator who taught constitutional law at George Mason University and is a former U.S. House of Representatives leadership legal counsel. "A civil rights investigation isn't a political stunt or a chit to be used whenever convenient. The lives of too many Americans were given in order for its genesis. Shame on Eric Holder for abusing it this way."
"National civil rights and black street activists raised expectations in the police shooting of black teenager Michael Brown. Nearly pathological in their insistence that Brown was shot in cold blood, despite no real evidence, black leaders and protesters now demand Officer Darren Wilson be arrested, sentenced and convicted for murder. Their rallying cry is 'hands up, don't shoot," alongside "No Justice, No Peace" - a chant made infamous by Al Sharpton," noted Project 21's Joe Hicks , a former executive director for the Greater Los Angeles chapter of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Southern Christian Leadership Conference. "We now know, from leaked testimony and forensic evidence presented to the grand jury, that the young Mr. Brown was likely not shot in the act of surrendering and that Officer Wilson's description of events will most likely result in no criminal charges. Then what? Protesters have been led, by a series of race-hustlers, to believe that they 'deserve' the justice they insist on and to demand nothing less than a proverbial lynching of Officer Wilson irregardless of the evidence. This sets the stage for more violence in this small suburb of St. Louis."
Hicks added: "We've seen a version of this play itself out before in Florida after the shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman. If the grand jury refuses to hand down an indictment and the Justice Department has no grounds on which to bring charges, Michael Brown - a small-time local thug - will be elevated into the pantheon of civil rights heroes alongside figures such as Rosa Parks and Emmitt Till. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. must be spinning in his grave."
To successfully bring charges against Officer Wilson, federal prosecutors must prove Wilson used deadly force against Brown because of Brown's race. Witness reports, Officer Wilson's reported testimony and forensic reports indicate a struggle in which Brown may have been the aggressor. Testimony that Officer Wilson feared for his life and acted in self-defense also makes it difficult to prove a civil rights claim.
The news about federal civil rights charges comes as the local grand jury is said to be wrapping up its work. Leaked reports predict it will not charge Officer Wilson. Local communities, having already endured months of violence and unrest, are bracing for renewed violence if no charges are filed.
This could be the second time this year that the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division has chosen not to bring charges in a high-profile investigation. In October, reports said the federal agency will not file charges against George Zimmerman in the 2012 death of Trayvon Martin.
Project 21 members have completed over 150 radio and television interviews on the death of Michael Brown and unrest in Ferguson, Missouri in addition to being interviewed or cited by the media over 1,500 other times in 2014 - including TVOne, the Philadelphia Inquirer, Fox News Channel, Westwood One, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, SiriusXM satellite radio, Conservative Commandos and the 50,000-watt radio stations WBZ-Boston, WHO-Des Moines, KDKA-Pittsburgh, KOA-Denver and WJR-Detroit - on issues that include civil rights, entitlement programs, the economy, race preferences, education and corporate social responsibility. Project 21 has participated in cases before the U.S. Supreme Court regarding race preferences and voting rights, defended voter ID laws at the United Nations and provided regular commentary during the Trayvon Martin judicial proceedings in 2013. Its volunteer members come from all walks of life and are not salaried political professionals.
Project 21, a leading voice of black conservatives for over two decades, is sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research, a conservative, free-market, non-profit think-tank established in 1982. Contributions to the National Center are tax-deductible and greatly appreciated.