The grand jury presiding over Darren Wilson’s shooting of teen Michael Brown concluded yesterday evening. The jury found Wilson not guilty, setting off another bought of chaotic rioting throughout the streets of Ferguson.
Protests rippled across the country — from Chicago and Los Angeles to Seattle and Portland. Hundreds of Portlanders marched to the Portland Police Bureau’s North Precinct where some drew chalk body lines representing African Americans killed by police.
Approximately 20 Portlanders drove to Ferguson in what some called this generation’s “Freedom Ride.”
“We want our young people to believe their lives matter,” said Lakeitha Elliot, a Portland resident who volunteers at Jefferson High School. “When the media and the justice system act like their lives don’t matter, it’s hard to have our young people believe that their lives do.”
Some Portland police officers posted photos on Facebook of their police badges wrapped in bracelets that read “I am Darren Wilson.” Yesterday, Police Chief Mike Reese ordered these photos be removed.
“Their actions do a disservice to the hundreds of Portland Police Officers who are building relationships and partnerships with the community every day,” Mayor Charlie Hales said of the officers who cited Wilson on Facebook.
Wilson announced he may resign from the Ferguson Police Department, telling colleagues that he considered resigning “to help ease pressure and protect his fellow officers.”
“It would be senseless for him to go back to Ferguson,” CNN legal analyst Mark O’Mara said. “And I don’t even think he can go back to law enforcement, for the same reason. He is still now going to carry with him this mantle that he was the cop who killed the young black kid that sparked the controversy nationwide.”
Anticipating the brewing violence, many Ferguson shop owners boarded over their doors and windows in advance of the grand jury’s decision. Multiple schools also closed.
Despite their grief, the parents of Michael Brown urged protesters to act peacefully.
“We are profoundly disappointed that the killer of our child will not face the consequence of his actions,” the couple said in a statement. “While we understand that many others share our pain, we ask that you channel your frustration in ways that will make a positive change. We need to work together to fix the system that allowed this to happen.”
The Browns are working to promote new laws requiring all officers to wear cameras on their uniforms.
“I hope something really good comes out of all of this. Otherwise, [Brown] would have died in vain,” Stoney Shaw, pastor at First Baptist Church Ferguson, told CNN.