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National Civil Rights Organizations 'Vigilant' After Michael Brown Shooting, Ferguson Protests

First Posted: Aug 17, 2014 02:40 AM EDT
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Michael Brown's death and the subsequent protests in Ferguson, Missouri, have national civil rights organizations' attention as calls for peace and justice grow louder.

The attention on Ferguson follows the death of Brown, an 18-year-old African-American high school graduate, who was shot by a police officer on Aug. 9. He was shot multiple times by the officer, later to be revealed as Darren Wilson. Brown's death resulted in protests by residents against the police department's treatment of the community. The protests led police to launch tear gas at protesters and arrest dozens of people, including journalists. Protests have also expanded to major cities such as Los Angeles and New York City.

According to League of United Latin American Citizens' National Executive Director Brent Wilkes, the national organization sends its prayers to Brown's family and friends as they plan the 18-year-old's funeral instead of his graduation celebration.

"The pain and anguish of losing a child are unimaginable, especially when the child was taken at the hands of those sworn to protect and serve the community," Wilkes said in a statement. "We are encouraged that the U.S. Attorney General has opened an inquiry of the circumstances surrounding Michael Brown's death and are expecting nothing but full cooperation from local and state authorities to ensure a just and transparent investigation."

As Wilkes noted, President Barack Obama has ordered the Department of Justice and Attorney General Eric Holder to independently investigate Brown's death. Following a conversation with Obama, Holder said he was "deeply concerned" by the deployment of military equipment and vehicles to combat the Ferguson protests. Holder added that DOJ officials are in contact with law enforcement in Ferguson as they help build trust to the community.

"All the while, the federal civil rights investigation into the shooting incident itself continues, in parallel with the local investigation into state law violations," Holder said. "Our investigators from the Civil Rights Division and U.S. attorney's office in Missouri have already conducted interviews with eyewitnesses on the scene at the time of the shooting incident on Saturday. Our review will take time to conduct, but it will be thorough and fair."

Wilkes added that his organization "stands ready and vigilant to ensure that justice and accountability are served and hope that as investigations are concluded, the trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve can be preserved."

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People also sent their prayers to Brown's family and friends.

"The death of yet another African-American at the hands of those sworn to protect and serve the community where he lived is heartbreaking. Michael Brown was preparing to begin college, and now his family is preparing to bury their child -- his life cut short in a tragic encounter with the police," NAACP President and CEO Cornell William Brooks said.

Brooks added added that the organization will be "vigilant" until there is accountability and justice for Brown and other individuals who are victims of "misguided police practices" across the U.S.

"Even as we call for accountability by those charged with protecting the community, we call on the community to act -- collectively and calmly until we secure justice for the family of Michael Brown," Brooks said.

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