Princeton Today: Princeton Reacts to Ferguson Announcement
About 300 students at Princeton University took to the streets last night in response to the announcement that a grand jury decided not to indict police officer Darren Wilson for the shooting and death of unarmed black teen Michael Brown. The students marched along Prospect Avenue to the Woodrow Wilson School, chanting slogans like “No justice, no peace” and “Hands up, don’t shoot.”
The march was the first of a few events in Princeton that were planned as people prepared for the grand jury announcement. Two more events are planned in Princeton for tonight. The Princeton Friends Meeting House will host a prayer gathering, and the Coalition for Peace Action and other groups will gather in front of Palmer Square to protest. See details below.
Mostly sunny with a high of 59.
Thanksgiving Farmer’s Market and Bake Sale – Buy your Thanksgiving Dinner vegetables and dessert, and benefit two great causes. All proceeds benefit the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen and the Lawrenceville Presbyterian Church’s preschool scholarship fund. Loads of late-season produce donated from local farms. Baked Goods galore. Come to shop, come for family fun. Entertainment 12:30 – Music Together Family Sing-Along 2:30 – Riverside Bluegrass Band Children’s craft activities throughout the afternoon 4:30 – Singalong Pete Bring a non-perishable food item to donate to T.A.S.K. and be entered in a drawing for local business gift coupons. Noon to 5 p.m. Lawrenceville Presbyterian Church, 2688 Main Street (Route 206), Lawrence.
Rally for Racial Justice and Non-Violence – A group of Princeton area residents plans to gather at Tiger Park in front of Palmer Square 6 p.m. to protest the fact that the police officer in Ferguson, Missouri who shot unarmed teen Michael Brown will not be indicted. The Coalition for Peace Action is co-sponsoring a rally for racial justice and non-violence in Ferguson and America.
On the Day After the Ferguson Grand Jury Announcement – Gathering at the Princeton Friends Meetinghouse to pray for peace and justice. 470 Quaker Road, Princeton.
The Dinky train is back in service again today.
Quaker Road was closed early this morning because of a car accident. The road has been reopened.
It is one thing for people to protest that the police in Ferguson and elsewhere (yes, even in Princeton) react more harshly and violently to young people of color than they do to Caucasian youth. That is a travesty and needs to be addressed. It is misplaced, however, to make the Ferguson Grand Jury decision the focal point of that protest. Unless and until one has participated in Grand Jury proceedings and seen ALL of the evidence presented, a process that is secret by design on our system, one cannot knowledgeably say the decision was “wrong” as so many are doing. That, too, is a travesty.
As it happens, all of the evidence from the grand jury was released. It shows that the prosecutor basically held a secret trial, which is not what grand juries do, on charges. The transcript shows that Officer Wilson’s account was accepted without challenge, even helped by the prosecutor, whereas witnesses with conflicting accounts were strongly cross-examined.
In view of how pretty much all grand juries work, in which juries only receive part of the evidence, one has to question the fairness of the prosecutor. Why did this case get unusual treatment by having all the evidence presented? it is hard not to conclude that the prosecutor had decided that there shouldn’t be an indictment. Had the prosecutor wanted an indictment, he could have received one, as there was plenty of evidence supporting an indictment presented.
No one ever challenged Officer Wilson on why he shot an unarmed man 10 times or why, if he was in fear of Michael Brown, did he pursue him outside of his vehicle, instead of waiting for backup that had already been called.
Personally, I don’t think this is primarily a race issue. Race plays a large role but foremost is that the police have become an occupying presence in many towns and cities, are quick to assume the worst of people, and then apply too much force in trying to “resolve” a situation. We have a major police problem in our society. The respect and debt we owe the police for their good work should not keep us from addressing this problem.
I’ve begun to read the Ferguson Grand Jury transcripts (posted on NY Times) and am wondering about the Assistant Prosecutor’s request on the second day that jurors hold their questions until the end of testimony by a witness. I’ve seen attorneys (and others) do this in public hearings — with the effect that those not
presenting the case are hampered from pursuing a line of inquiry. The attorney presenting the case says up front that they welcome all questions and want to take all the time necessary for inquiry, but then by discouraging, or not allowing, questions in direct response to a witnesses testimony, the presenting attorney stops questioning by an independent, in this case, juror in the immediate context of the discussion of a particular point . By the time the juror has the chance to ask the question at the end of the testimony the context has been forgotten by other jurors, if not by the juror asking the question themselves.
I am wondering if holding questions until the end is a common legal tactic that attorneys are trained to use to control the discussion and forestall full independent inquiry. In this Ferguson Grand Jury the questions that interested me came from a juror on the first day who was wondering if there was “a hole” because the medical examiner did not take photos of the body as was usual.
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