Bishop T. Larry Kirkland, Chair, Commission on Publications
The Reverend Dr. Johnny Barbour, Jr., Publisher
The Reverend Dr. Calvin H. Sydnor III, the 20th Editor, The Christian Recorder
The Christian Recorder Breaking News – The African Methodist Episcopal Church Leadership responds to the Grand Jury Decision on the Killing of Michael Brown
-- From the Council of Bishops of the African Methodist Episcopal Church
The Council of Bishops
African Methodist Episcopal Church
A Statement on the Grand Jury Decision on the Killing of Michael Brown
The Council of Bishops of the African Methodist Episcopal Church joins with many others in expressing our disappointment and frustration with the failure of the grand jury in St. Louis County, Missouri to indict Police Officer Darren Wilson in the August 9th killing of unarmed teenager Michael Brown. Our concern is not merely with the decision of the grand jury, but also with the lack of objectivity and fairness on the part of Missouri Governor Jay Nixon and St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert P. McCulloch.
The Council of Bishops protests the grand jury’s decision and the manner in which this case has been handled. We cannot accept this decision silently or without response. Our cry is about more than Michael Brown and Ferguson, Missouri. Black citizens, and all who live in the United States, deserve fair, sensitive service from law enforcement as we encourage and appreciate those officers of the law who risk their lives to justly protect our communities. Moreover, our judicial system should be one of integrity, placing justice in everyone’s reach.
As we join those who seek justice beyond this grand jury’s decision, we call upon protesters to be peaceful and non-violent. Protesters must not give credibility to those who anticipate looting, violence and destruction. We must show a more excellent way.
It is also important that the grand jury’s decision is not the last word as it relates to the continued killing of young black people. The last word must be the success of God’s justice and our determination to learn from our tragedies, to draw closer to each other and to value ourselves. We must work to end violence in our communities by committing to expect the best of each other and having each other’s back.
Through our protest, the Council of Bishops calls those of us who call the United States of America “home” to repent and challenges us all to acknowledge that racial and racialized class injustices continue to mar the moral character of our nation. While we protest, let us pray for our country, the Brown Family and each other. We are people of faith, and we will keep the faith, even in these disappointing and frustrating times.
We call upon the congregants of our Zion and community to be in prayer, both personally and collectively, and to recommit ourselves to justice and the work of our Lord’s kingdom on earth.
Jeffrey N. Leath
President, The Council of Bishops
Much of this statement comes through Bishop Reginald T. Jackson and the Social Action Commission of the AME Church. For a more complete presentation/discussion on this matter please go to our Social Action website: http://www.ame-sac.com
-- From the Social Action Commission of the African Methodist Episcopal Church
Statement of the Social Action Commission
African Methodist Episcopal Church
Re: Grand Jury Decision in Killing of Michael Brown
The Social Action Commission of the African Methodist Episcopal Church joins with many others across the nation in expressing disappointment and frustration with the failure of the grand jury in St. Louis County, Missouri to bring an indictment against Police officer Darren Wilson in the August 9th killing of unarmed teenager Michael Brown. Let us be clear, our disappointment and frustration is not with the members of the grand jury, but with Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon and St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert P. McCulloch. Because of the ties of family members and other connections with police, Gov. Nixon was asked and urged to appoint a special prosecutor to handle this matter, but he refused. Clearly, there were questions of objectivity and independence raised to the governor, but he brushed them aside and allowed the county prosecutor to pursue this matter.
St. Louis County Prosecutor McCulloch from the very beginning has mishandled this case. The purpose of the grand jury is not to decide guilt or innocence, but only to determine whether or not there is probable cause to send the case to trial. Ninety nine percent of the time a prosecutor will present a case to the grand jury and suggest the charge or charges they are pursuing and the grand jury will agree. In this case the prosecutor simply gave all the information to the grand jury without explanation and without seeking charges, but left all decisions to the grand jury. This is highly unusual. The best and fairest decision for the prosecutor would have been to forego the grand jury, and send the matter to trial, where Officer Brown would be ensured of due process. We do not convict Officer Wilson, he may be innocent of anything wrong or illegal, but only a trial can determine that, and the grand jury has decided that will not happen. Because of this, Officer Wilson fairly or unfairly is guilty in the eyes of many in this country, particularly Blacks.
This grand jury had no credibility whatsoever. Grand jury proceedings are supposed to be confidential, yet we read in the New York Times, Washington Post, other newspapers, on television and other social media the proceedings in the grand jury, all favorable to Officer Wilson. Now the grand jury’s decision not to indict Officer Wilson has further divided an already divided and polarized nation. This decision by the grand jury is about more than Michael Brown, it is about the lack of value and loss of life of so many young blacks, particularly males, who are unarmed and killed by law enforcement and others under the guise of “standing their ground.” This lack of indictment is a continuation of no one being held accountable and justifying the claim of those who kill blacks saying they “feared for their lives.” Indeed as County Prosecutor McCulloch
The Social Action Commission supports those who protest the grand jury’s decision. This decision cannot be accepted silently or without response. We expect and the nation should not be surprised that there will be protest across the country. This is about more than Michael Brown and Ferguson, Missouri. The killing of young blacks is a national problem, and this does not excuse or ignore blacks killing blacks, which we also abhor and work to seek to end. While we support those who protest this grand jury’s decision, we call upon protesters to be peaceful and non-violent. Protesters must not give credibility to those who expect protesters to loot and rob, to be violent and destructive. We must show those who expect the worse of us a more excellent way.
It is also important that the grand jury’s word fail to be the last word as it relates to the continued killing of young blacks. The last word must be our determination to learn from our tragedies, to draw closer to each other and to value ourselves. This includes ending the cycle of blacks killing blacks, of us committing to expect the best of each other and having each other’s back. Through our protest let us call the nation to repentance, and challenge it to come out of denial about our unresolved issue with race. While we protest let us pray for our nation, the Brown family and each other. We are people of faith, and we will keep the faith, even in these disappointing and frustrating times.
We call upon the African Methodist Episcopal Church to be in prayer, both personally and collectively and to recommit ourselves to justice and the work of our Lord’s kingdom on earth.
Bishop Reginald T. Jackson
Chair, The AMEC Social Action Commission