- Katherine Coplen
- The scene on the Circle a few hours after the Ferguson decision.
I stood on the Circle last night with a small group of protestors who told me they couldn't stay at home. They were too frustrated, too sad and tense to stay in front of their screens, scrolling through the endless tweets, live streams and news reports. They sought out communion at the center of our city, a place to vent and talk about what's next.
Some of those same protestors have put together what appears to be plans for a significantly larger demonstration tonight at 5 p.m. on the Circle. I reached out to ask for statements from that organizing group — a group of Hoosiers who ventured out to Ferguson together in August and call themselves Indy10 — and I've put them together in full below.
"We want to show solidarity with the people of Ferguson. We may not have the same experience with police violence and injustice but we feel its important to express our opinions and concerns. Moral support is very important for people in this type of situation, whether it be here at home or abroad
"In August, we took food and water with us to Ferguson, to offer support for the community. We participated in peaceful, nonviolent demonstrations. We talked with people in Ferguson. Then we all waited, peacefully, for the legal process to proceed. In the meantime, we have been finding ways we can support the conversation about police brutality and our local communities. We have gone into our neighborhoods to talk to people one on one, as we discuss with them a questionnaire we have developed related to police and community relations. These conversations have to happen so we can all be engaged and involved in defining and working toward a vision of better communities and a more just Indianapolis.
(Editor's note: Here is the survey that Indy10 has developed.)
"We don't believe in prejudging the innocence of anyone accused of a crime, though in reality that turns out to be more of an ideal than actual practice. We hoped we could rely on an impartial grand jury deliberation. The purpose of a grand jury investigation is not to determine if the accused is guilty, but only if there is enough evidence to indicate criminal charges should be brought, so all aspects of the incident can be thoroughly explored in a public settling. We disagree with the St. Louis grand jury's decision not to indict Darren Wilson. It is especially concerning that St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch said eye witness accounts were disregarded because they were inconsistent with physical evidence. There are too many unanswered questions and known issues that were evidently not sufficient for the grand jury, but the reasons why are not unknown to the general public. Grandy jury deliberations are secret, but the prosecutor took the step of recording these particular deliberations. At a minimum, these records need to be made public in this situation. Otherwise, we are left with the unacceptable statements that eye witness accounts were discounted.
"Our group formed after the National Moment of Silence for Mike Brown. The notion was given to make a trip down to Ferguson to bring donations and moral support. After the return home, even though we were still mere strangers, we decided to band together and work towards solving community issues here at home. We coined the name Indy10 as it was 10 of us that went to Ferguson. We have been doing work to get community voices on what concerns they have, and intend to hold a forum with local representatives and law enforcement in hopes to put some spotlight on these issues to ensure they are appropriately addressed."
- Statement from Indy10 More information on tonight's gathering can be found at the Facebook page.
I reached out to two NUVO contributors who have been outspoken on this issue for their thoughts:
"[Tonight] I hope to show activists I've connected with by social media in Ferguson that they are not alone. I hope that Mike Brown's parents and family are comforted, that their son's death is not in vain. I want to embrace and celebrate our differences, and use the power in that to dismantle systems that disproportionately affect and harm people of color, Black youth, and the low income families"
-SheHive founder and NUVO contributor Elle Roberts
" I have deep sadness for Mike Brown's life and his family. When I was his age I was probably doing far dumber stuff than he's been accused of. But perhaps by nature of the privilege I enjoy as a white man, or sheer luck maybe - I was able to grow up and become the person I was meant to be, or the person I wanted to be... adolescence is an awkward period where we try on different personas and experiment with behavior. Regardless of what happened between Officer Wilson and Mike Brown, Mike was robbed of his chance to redeem himself, and become the man he was destined to be. For many young black men in this country, one bad day or one bad decision is a death sentence. And for me that is a deep tragedy."
-NUVO contributor Kyle Long
If you're looking to read catch up on pieces before tonight's event, here's a selection of thoughtful response pieces from around the net chosen by me and those quoted above.
Self-Segregation: Why It's So Hard For White People To Understand Ferguson at The Atlantic
Ferguson and Patience for the Appalled by Stacia L. Brown (Elle's pick)
What's next? Justice continues its probe of Ferguson Police Department at Washington Post (Elle's pick)
Who is responsible for violence in Ferguson? at World Socialist Website (Kyle's pick)
#fergusondecision via Twitter
Ta-Nehisi Coates' The Case for Reparations at The Atlantic
Purdue University professor and bestselling author Roxane Gay's response "Only Words" at The Butter
And don't forget: Ferguson Municipal Library is open today and accepting donations.