Target: Missouri Governor Jay Nixon
Goal: End the new state of emergency declared in Ferguson
The tragic death of Michael Brown electrified the community of Ferguson, sparking protests, severe police brutality, and sporadic incidents of violence. The entire world is waiting with bated breath as a grand jury deliberates whether or not to charge Darren Wilson, the officer who shot and killed Brown, with murder. On Monday November 17th, in anticipation of the upcoming decision, Governor Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency in Ferguson. Far from protecting Ferguson residents, groups such as Amnesty International and the NAACP insist that such a move only inflamed tensions and restricted free speech.
In the weeks following Brown’s death, the world watched as Ferguson protestors expressed their outrage against police brutality, and were only met with more of the same. Tear gas and rubber bullets became the order of the day, doled out to largely peaceful and unarmed protestors by police in full riot gear. Dozens of protestors were arrested for failure to disperse. Acts such as looting did accompany the protests, but it is unclear whether they were carried out by the protestors themselves or by opportunists. In fact, a recent report indicated that protestors were surrounding stores to protect them from looters. Both police and protestors also blamed outsiders for incidents of violence, which included throwing bottles and rocks and at least two shootings. Overall, however, the protests in Ferguson were overwhelmingly peaceful–something which cannot be said of the police crackdown.
Everyone from Governor Nixon himself to President Obama has urged protestors to avoid violence. Yet few have asked the same of the real inciters of violence: the police. After such police brutality in Ferguson, the introduction of the National Guard will not ease tensions, but increase them. By sending in the National Guard, focusing so heavily on sporadic acts of violence committed by “protestors,” and now declaring this state of emergency, Governor Nixon has only confirmed what protestors in Ferguson already know–that his government does not respect either the lives of African Americans or their rights to protest and free speech.
Please sign this petition to urge Governor Nixon to end the state of emergency in Ferguson and rely on mutual trust and respect to protect the community.
Dear Governor Nixon,
I would like to express my concern at your recent order declaring a state of emergency in Ferguson. While I agree that protests may follow the announcement of the grand jury decision, the introduction of more law enforcement with military-grade weapons is not a solution. It is, in fact, part of the problem.
As you know, the protests in Ferguson started because of an act of police brutality–the shooting of an unarmed African American teenager by a white police officer. In the months since Michael Brown’s death, the police of Ferguson have displayed that brutality again and again, confronting peaceful crowds of protestors with tear gas and rubber bullets. Their violent actions only further legitimized the very protests they were trying to dismantle.
I understand that sporadic incidents of violence in the past have caused safety concerns. Yet I would remind you that the majority of protestors in Ferguson were peaceful, concerned citizens simply exercising their First Amendment rights to express grief and anger at the tragedy that had befallen their community. A renewed crackdown will only rob them of those rights and increase Ferguson’s record of human rights abuses. I urge you to lift the state of emergency and deal with this situation in a sensitive and humane manner.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: worker via Open Clip Art