The Ferguson grand jury is still deliberating on whether to charge Police Officer Darren Wilson in shooting death of Michael Brown or send him on his merry way.
When the verdict is announced, groups will hit the street with all deliberate speed. The Ferguson National Response Network is curating after-the-verdict events nationwide. The FBI, National Guard and police departments across the country are getting ready. So are social justice activists.
It’s been more than three months since Michael Brown was gunned down in Ferguson, Missouri. The city is on pins and needles as it awaits the grand jury’s verdict which is expected to be handed down in the coming week.
Groups across the country are mobilizing for after the verdict protests. At Saturday’s action rally at the House of Justice, Rev. Al Sharpton said the “abuse of the grand jury” is fueling suspicion:
All eyes around the country have been on Ferguson, Missouri as the grand jury has wound down there… The abuse of the grand jury is the reason there is the suspicion from many of us that they are setting up to do nothing, which is why we want the federal government to come in.
It doesn’t take three or four months to determine if unarmed men were responsible for what happened. So you’re trying to figure something out that we done already figured out. We’ve done figured out you’re trying to figure something else. We are on high alert that within 24 hours we’ll be hitting the streets in 20 cities.
Sharpton said “the object of the protest is to put the pressure on the federal government to go forward.”
The community is on high alert. And so are the police.
Before you go to the protest, know your rights. If you are in the Philadelphia area, you are invited to a free interactive training session co-sponsored by Up Against the Law Legal Collective and Avenging the Ancestors Coalition (F)ilm the Police Committee (full disclosure: I’m co-chair of the committee).
Come hear and see what to do when you have an encounter with the police whether walking, driving or chilling on your porch. For more information, call (215) 552-8785.
It’s about to go down.
UPDATE On Monday, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon issued an Executive Order declaring a State of Emergency in Ferguson activated the National Guard.
Tuesday is Election Day. You know the mantra: Our ancestors died for the right to die. It’s your civic responsibility. It could be a lot worse. Vote for the lesser of two evils. This is the most important election since [fill in the blank].
If you’re unsure of the location of your polling place, hours of operation or who’s on the ballot, there’s an app for that -- Get to the Polls.
While I’m a voting rights activist, I understand why many are skeptical about the efficacy of voting. It seems like little ever changes for the better. Yes, your vote is your voice. But the change you want doesn’t just happen. You have to make it happen.
Turning out to vote is the first step. But civic engagement is a process, not an event. Truth be told, elected officials want you to go away after you vote for them. To make a difference, you must stay engaged after Election Day.
You also must hold those for whom you vote accountable. No elected official should be given a pass simply because he or she looks like you.