posted Sep 12, 2014, 12:13 PM by Seattle Alphas

Statement of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity
on the Shooting Death of Michael Brown and the
American Epidemic of Legal Killings of People of Color
The past week we have witnessed a horrific scene that brings back memories and images of the sixties, for all the wrong reasons. The shooting and killing of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., has not only destroyed a family, it has reopened the wounds of a sickness. Regardless of what this young man had allegedly done, it is a sickness that still plagues the United States—the unjust enforcement of law and order when directed toward Americans of color. It is a sickness that has resulted in the deaths of Oscar Grant, Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, Eric Gardner, Sean Bell, Jack Lamar Roberson, Ezell Ford and many others.
We have not idly stood by as people of color are continuously “legally” killed by those who have sworn to protect them. For years, we have been committed to empowering local communities by signing up thousands of voters through our Voteless People is a Hopeless People national program. We are committed to racial justice by developing and providing changes to both national and state legislation. Alpha members who hold elected offices such as U.S. Reps. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), Robert C. Scott (D-VA) and Chaka Fattah (D-PA), and members running for office such as Michael Blake (NY), Sean Henry (NY) and Charles E. Sydnor (MD), are working hard to change the status quo for all Americans.
Toward a proactive solution, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity asks President Barack Obama and the United States Congress to authorize a federal commission to investigate law-enforcement policies, procedures and practices against African-American individuals and communities. We ask that such a commission be given the authority to review, report and recommend action on several issues, including disproportionate stops, arrests, prosecutions, convictions and sentencing. Furthermore, the commission should be empowered to review actions of individual officers and law enforcement agencies, including conditions related to time, place and manner, as well as officer and purported offender age and race. Also, it should advise the Department of Justice on ameliorative steps, and the Congress on law-enforcement spending measures.
In addition, Alpha Phi Alpha brothers around the country will continue to address these issues through our Go-to-High-School, Go-to-College program. Our chapters will host focus groups and town hall meetings to discuss these critical concerns and continue to support President Barack Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative through the fraternity’s charge to increase new mentors through its ranks and reinforcing our commitment to developing leaders.
America cannot expect black Americans to fight in other countries for democracy while police have a license to kill them here at home. We are continuing to stand for justice and equality for all, including black and brown people who are disproportionately affected by discriminatory practices and racial profiling.
In Ferguson, and in countless communities like it around the nation—communities that have predominantly white police departments in predominantly black communities—all too often there is a disconnect between the people and the police who have taken an oath to protect them. When another black kid is killed by those who are sworn to serve and protect, a situation that’s already a tinderbox explodes into a hellfire of chaos and protest and even more people get hurt and may die.
Men of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity deplore the illegal acts of looting, and those who hijack peaceful protest should be held accountable. Many of our members have participated in nonviolent protests in Ferguson and in other communities around the United States. However, the latest tactics used to disperse peaceful demonstrations we also denounce.
We are raising our voices and urge others to do so, against the rising militarization of law enforcement. Police officers, also known as “peace” officers, are to “serve and protect.” The arming and outfitting of local cops into small armies is troublesome at best and diminishes our constitutional freedoms at worst. It is a slippery slope we should stop now.
Our hearts and prayers go out to all those suffering because of Michael Brown’s death. Alpha has many members in the state of Missouri and we have heavily invested in its communities through the years. We are supporting the Brown family in any way we can.
A young black man, who was to be a freshman in college, is now dead. This is yet another opportunity to provide equal justice for black and brown people in America. We are continuing to work to ensure that equal justice truly prevails.