Legal Wrap: With No Indictment for Darren Wilson, What Comes Next?

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Roundups Law and Policy

Legal Wrap: With No Indictment for Darren Wilson, What Comes Next?

Jessica Mason Pieklo

With a grand jury failing to indict Darren Wilson for Michael Brown's murder, the country is left asking if justice is even possible anymore.

The reality of Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson’s non-indictment is settling in, and the enormous task of undoing the structural racism and oppression that brought us to this point sits especially heavy on the shoulders of many in the aftermath. But if there’s one glimmer of hope to come from witnessing white power structures in Missouri circle their wagons to protect one of their own, it is the transformative power of digital media. In fact, the power of digital media and social media to speak truth to power and create systems to hold Wilson and his protectors accountable is so great that St. Louis County and Wilson-apologist Robert McCulloch blamed social media for making an indictment of Wilson impossible because it basically created too much evidence to sift through. A cynic might think that McCulloch’s statementsmade Monday evening, well after the grand jury decision had been reached but not yet announced—were simply looking for cover from criticism that, as far as any justice for Mike Brown and his family, the fix was in.

A cynic would be right.

But thanks to the power of digital journalism and social media today, we’re having a different conversation—a tough one, a necessary one—about the value of Black lives and what justice looks like now. Below is a roundup of some of the best and most thought-provoking reading on the aftermath of the Ferguson grand jury travesty.

Jamelle Bouie at Slate reminds us that it’s not just the courts that can create justice. “It would have been powerful to see charges filed against Darren Wilson,” writes Bouie. “At the same time, actual justice for Michael Brown—a world in which young men like Michael Brown can’t be gunned down without consequences—won’t come from the criminal justice system. Our courts and juries aren’t impartial arbiters—they exist inside society, not outside of it—and they can only provide as much justice as society is willing to give.”

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Brittney Cooper goes right for the gut punch of truth, here: “If I have to begin by convincing you that Black Lives Matter, we have all already lost, haven’t we?”

The Ferguson grand jury’s openness was a farce, no matter if they posted the evidence online after their deliberation.

We rage.

Even Ezra Klein thinks Darren Wilson is full of it.

Meanwhile, the National Bar Association calls on the Department of Justice to keep up their investigation and pursue federal charges against Wilson.

Because, as the Ferguson protesters said, “we still don’t have justice.”

As we suspected, grand juries almost always indict, unless, apparently, the target of the grand jury investigation is a cop.

White people, if you’re still wondering, here are 12 things you can do right now in the face of the outrage that is Ferguson.

Syreeta McFadden, at The Guardian, has this must-read.

ProPublica’s analysis of killings by police show Black men at a distinctly higher risk of extrajudicial murder.

One of CNN’s legal analysts described Wilson’s testimony as “fanciful and not credible.”

That’s more generous than the “pack of damn lies” that I can muster.

There are still a couple of ways Wilson could be held accountable, but it’s an uphill climb.

Jay Smooth has some tips for having the “that sounds racist” conversation, which is especially helpful before Thanksgiving with relatives.

Let’s take a moment to revisit this powerful piece by Katherine Cross on why Ferguson is a reproductive justice issue.

If you suspected an inherent conflict of interest in prosecutors who rely on cops to be trusted with aggressively prosecuting one, you’re right.

Katie McDonough at Salon has this great piece on how Darren Wilson and “being afraid for your life” is the ultimate expression of white privilege.

Finally, let’s give CNN legal analyst Lisa Bloom the last word because hers is one of the best and most thorough takedowns of the grand jury testimony and McCulloch’s performance (or lack thereof) as a prosecutor.