A St. Louis grand jury’s decision to no bill the Ferguson police officer who fatally shot Michael Brown triggered riots in Ferguson and then protests that spread across the nation, including San Antonio where more than 100 people gathered peacefully in Main Plaza Tuesday night.
Brown, a black teenager, was unarmed when Officer Darren Wilson, a white policeman, fired his gun 12 times, striking Brown at least six times, including twice in the head.
Conflicting accounts of the incident have stirred strong feeling on both sides and also put a spotlight on a town with a long history of incidents involving black citizens and white police officers.
“When that decision was made I was here FaceTiming my wife … standing out in front of the courthouse, something that’s supposed to represent justice,” said protest coordinator Mike Lowe of SATX4Ferguson. KSAT’s interview with Lowe and his social media updates sparked more protestors to come forward to help organize Tuesday night’s event.
“Silence will not be the greatest sound in San Antonio, so here we are,” he said. “We want to unite in solidarity with Ferguson and the Mike Brown family. That’s why we’re here.”
“Everybody’s life matters. I don’t care what color you are – your life matters. There is nobody above the law,” Lowe said, leading the gathering into a moment of silence.
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“Black and brown rights matter, we’re here to fight for the fact that his murderer was let free,” said Denise Hernandez. “There’s no reasonable doubt that a crime was committed.”
San Antonio Mayor Ivy Taylor issued a statement on the Ferguson ruling through the Office of City Communications and Public Affairs Tuesday afternoon, imploring residents to treat each other with respect and to engage in discussion rather than acts of destruction.
“This is how we have always handled momentous events in our city – we mourn together, we celebrate together, we strive together,” Mayor Taylor said.
“As a mother, I extend my deepest condolences for the renewed grief this decision must bring to Michael Brown’s family and to the African-American community in Ferguson and across the country,” the Mayor stated in the report.
“We will not tolerate anyone that’s going to bring a negative vibe to what we got going on here tonight. There is plenty of negativity out there already,” Lowe said. “Tonight if you have a voice and you have a heavy heart, now will be the time.”
A statement released by the Brown Family’s attorneys immediately following the announcement of the grand jury’s decision was read:
We are profoundly disappointed that the killer of our child will not face the consequence of his actions.
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.
Join with us in our campaign to ensure that every police officer working the streets in this country wears a body camera.
We respectfully ask that you please keep your protests peaceful. Answering violence with violence is not the appropriate reaction.
Let’s not just make noise, let’s make a difference.
Assistant Editor Katherine Nickas contributed to this report.