Dated: Wednesday August 13, 2014
The death of any young person is a tragedy that can never fully be reconciled, particularly when it comes at the hands of those who are sworn to protect the community, regardless of its makeup.
We first render our condolences and heartfelt emotions and support to the family of Michael Brown, even while recognizing that this will not ease their pain, suffering and grief. Please know, though, that we share with you in the communal pain that has been experienced by his death, and wish you to know that we support you in your time of despair and your call for justice.
We are concerned, however, with the levels of gross disrespect that have been shown to Michael’s memory. Acts of violence, looting and vandalizing locations in our own communities do nothing more than sustain the perceptual images that others hold of us. Whether these acts have been committed by those who live in the community or people from outside its environment, these acts of misconduct must stop, as they bring nothing but harm to the community and those who must live and work there. Violence was not Michael’s way.
We next urge the community to remain calm during the course of the various investigations into this issue. In the words of Rev. Al Sharpton, “Don't be a traitor to Michael Brown in the name of you mad”. Be mad, yes. Be disheartened, by all means. Be incensed, in every sense of the word. But respect Michael’s memory. Committing more violence and mayhem dishonors him and shows strong disrespect for his family and close friends. And so we ask you, Michael’s community, to remain calm, yet steadfast in your search for the truth and justice.
As law enforcement officers, we recognize the distrust that is often felt towards those whose job it is to protect the community. Yet we also recognize its root causes. It is caused by a disconnect between police and community. It is caused by the continued perceptions and stereotypes that all young black men are, and must therefore be, involved in criminal activity. And it is caused by a failure to remember and recognize that in every community policing initiative, COMMUNITY COMES FIRST!
We do not yet know what the results of the various investigations conducted by the numerous agencies considering the incidents surrounding Michael’s death will provide. But we join with his family in demanding that those investigations be conducted in a transparent, open, objective and fair manner. And we join with them in demanding that, should there be fault found either in the officer’s actions or the department’s policies and procedures, that true justice be given.
The National Association of Black Law Enforcement Officers, Inc, a 501.(c).(3) non-profit, is a premier national organization representing the interests and concerns of African American, Latino and other criminal justice practitioners of color serving in law enforcement, corrections, and investigative agencies throughout the United States, and the communities in which they serve.
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