Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington and Dean Gary Hall of Washington National Cathedral have released the following statement on the grand jury decision in the case of Michael Brown:
As we watch with all America the events unfolding in Ferguson, Missouri, the words of Martin Luther King echo in our ears: “A riot is the language of the unheard.” While we cannot condone the violent response of some protestors, the anger on display in the wake of the grand jury’s decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown has little to do with social media or the 24-hour news cycle, as District Attorney Robert P. McCulloch has suggested. It has everything to do with the persistence of systemic racism in the American justice system. African Americans had reason to hope that in the case of Michael Brown an armed police officer would at last be charged in the killing of unarmed black teenager. And yet, after a grand jury process that many legal experts have called into question, they had further evidence that in the American justice system, the lives of black youth are valued less than those of their white counterparts.
With Richard Cohen, president of the Southern Poverty Law Center, we believe “that the events in Ferguson have made vivid just how wide the gulf is between the police and those who are policed in so many communities in our country. It’s a gulf that’s been formed by the history of discrimination in our country, a gulf that has been deepened by the systemic biases in our current criminal justice system. It’s a gulf that breeds suspicion and mistrust, a gulf that undermines the very legitimacy of our system of justice.”