BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - On Sunday, 24 hours before the Ferguson grand jury chose not to indict officer Darren Wilson, a leading member of the NAACP was in South Mississippi.
Hilary Shelton is the organization's director of governmental affairs. When WLOX News asked Shelter about the Ferguson case, and what he anticipated once the grand jury's findings were revealed, the NAACP leader said, “If indeed they fail to indict, we must make sure that it's peaceful. That is, our outrage needs to be heard as loudly and clearly as possible, but it also needs to be as peaceful as possible as well.”
Shelton said on Sunday he thought enough evidence existed to charge the officer with some sort of crime for shooting Michael Brown. But, he also stressed any protests related to this Ferguson shooting should not include violence. “The reason we're outraged about loss of life isn't something that should move us to take other lives or destroy other people's properties,” the NAACP national vice president said.
A news release from the Mississippi State Conference NAACP says that group is shocked and deeply disappointed that the grand jury did not indict Darren Wilson for the murder of Michael Brown, Jr. "Once again, the criminal justice system has failed to demonstrate fairness and respect for the human life of black males when the murderer is a white male authority figure," the Mississippi NAACP says in that statement.
The Mississippi chapter's news release says it's calling on the community to act collectively and calmly until the organization can secure justice for the families of Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Sean Bell and the countless number of victims of racial hate crimes in this country.
"While we are frustrated, we stand committed to continue our fight against racial profiling, police brutality and the militarization of local authorities. And we stand in solidarity with peaceful protesters and uphold that their civil rights not be violated as both demonstrators and authorities observe the ‘rules of engagement'. We are also urging all law enforcement agencies to utilize body cameras to ensure greater accountability," the statement says.
In Jackson, the NAACP is working with a local coalition called ‘Not Here, Ever Again', that began shortly after the George Zimmerman verdict. This coalition has provided know your rights training to youth and has met with Jackson Police Chief Lee Vance to develop community-driven solutions for safety and civil liberties in Jackson. This work should happen across the State of Mississippi to end racial profiling and police brutality.
The news release ends by saying, "Our prayers continue to go out to the family, friends and neighbors of 18 year old Michael Brown."