Stella Maxwell
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LGBT Community Responds to Ferguson Decision

LGBT Community Responds to Ferguson Decision

After St. Louis County prosecutor Robert McCulloch announced Monday night that a grand jury declined to indict white police officer Darren Wilson for the August 9 shooting death of unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, protests erupted in Ferguson, Mo., and several major cities around the country. 

Shortly after the announcement, Brown's parents issued a statement expressing disappointment but calling for peaceful demonstrations of the outrage felt by many. 

"Answering violence with violence is not the appropriate reaction," they said. "Let's not just make noise, let's make a difference."

In a statement before the announcement, Michael Brown Sr. had said, "Hurting others or destroying property is not the answer. No matter what the grand jury decides, I do not want my son’s death to be in vain. I want it to lead to incredible change, positive change, change that makes the St. Louis region better for everyone."

In a prime-time address from the White House press room, President Barack Obama joined Brown's parents in calling for calm and peaceful protests, while also acknowledging that "the situation in Ferguson speaks to the broader problems that we still face as a nation."

"The fact is in too many parts of this country a deep distrust exists between law enforcement and communities of color," the President continued. "Some of this is the result of the legacy of racial discrimination in this country. And this is tragic because nobody needs good policing more than poor communities with higher crime rates."

"But what is also true is that there are still problems and communities of color aren’t just making these problems up," Obama said. "These are real issues. And we have to lift them up and not deny them or try to tamp them down. What we need to do is understand them and figure out how do we make more progress. And that can be done."

Following the announcement, demonstrators took to the streets in Ferguson, Los Angeles, Boston, Washington, D.C., New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Seattle, many chanting "Black lives matter." Most protests remained peaceful, though demonstrators were arrested in several cities for blocking traffic or throwing objects at police, according to NBC News

As the nation began to process the decision, LGBT advocates began reacting to the news, as well. 

BuzzFeed LGBT reporter Tony Merevick captured the demonstration in New York City: 

Gay columnist and founder of the It Gets Better Project, Dan Savage:

Gay media personality Tyler Oakley:

Demonstrators in Chicago chanted "No justice, no peace!" as they marched down Martin Luther King Blvd.:

In Seattle protesters attempted to block Interstate 5 by lying on the ground, to which police responded by firing pepper spray into the crowd, according to the Seattle Times

Protesters in Philadelphia's City Center neighborhood, which recently found itself in the national spotlight after a brutal antigay hate crime:

Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin:

:Michael Brown’s family and the American people deserve to have this case fully adjudicated in a public trial. Today’s deeply disappointing decision by the grand jury denies them that opportunity. Until we as a nation make a meaningful commitment to ending police profiling — and to fully prosecuting individual cases of brutality — the kind of violence that ended Michael Brown’s life will only continue. As advocates for equality, it’s our job to show solidarity with a growing national movement to break this cycle of police violence.

"While we cannot begin to imagine the pain that the Brown family is facing at this moment, we send our thoughts, prayers and condolences to them during this heartbreaking and difficult time. We also stand in solidarity with the family's encouragement of peaceful protests and reflection following this decision."

National LGBTQ Task Force's Rev. Darlene Nipper

"People across this nation feel angry and outraged by this decision. Justice has been denied today to the parents of Michael Brown, the community of Ferguson, and an entire nation that continues to battle with racially motivated homicides and violence targeting black and brown males. No one should ever live in fear of walking down a street in their neighborhood and being killed by a police officer — the very officials who are meant to protect not take our lives.

"As Americans, we have a moral obligation to speak up and stand up against injustice. All lives matter! Anyone who takes someone’s life must be brought to justice. We cannot allow the murders of young Black men such as Michael Brown or Trayvon Martin to continue."

Pride At Work executive director Jerame Davis:

"The decision of the grand jury not to indict Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown feels like a punch in the gut to many. I am one of those who feel like justice failed us tonight. I believe in an America where there is no justification for a police officer to discharge 12 rounds at an unarmed teen. I believe in an America where police are expected and required to take every step possible to keep from killing the citizens they are sworn to protect. But most importantly, I believe in an America where black lives matter.

"In the labor movement, we fight every day to make sure everyone is treated with the dignity and respect they deserve on the job and in the public square. Our black brothers and sisters need and deserve a system that doesn’t fail them so tragically and with such frequency."

Out CNN reporter Don Lemon drew criticism for his initial remarks on the ground in Ferguson moments after the decision was announced, when he said, "Obviously, there is the smell of marijuana in the air." After the president's comments, Lemon once again appeared on the air, nearly choking on smoke fired by Ferguson and St. Louis police as Lemon struggled to put on a gas mask.

Fellow out CNN anchor Anderson Cooper also took some heat for a seemingly tone-deaf remark, telling his guests, "I hate to bring race into this," after discussing the racial makeup of the grand jury that declined to indict Wilson:

 

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