RENO — Local activists and leaders of the NAACP in Nevada joined the call on Monday for the immediate arrest of a Ferguson police officer who shot and killed an unarmed 18-year-old Missouri man more than two weeks ago, triggering raucous street protests and police patrols in the St. Louis suburb.
Officials for the Nevada NAACP and the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada (PLAN) delivered letters with their demands to the U.S. attorney’s offices in Reno and Las Vegas just hours after Michael Brown was eulogized Monday at his funeral in St. Louis.
In addition to arresting officer Darren Wilson, the Nevadans called for the firing of the Ferguson police chief and the appointment of a special prosecutor in the case. They also want U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to launch a nationwide investigation of “systemic police brutality and harassment” that they say is widespread in minority communities nationally.
“Sadly, cases of racialized profiling and harassment keep happening again and again and again across the country,” said Bob Fulkerson, PLAN’s state director. “We are asking Eric Holder to help break this cycle.”
Pat Gallimore, 2nd vice president of the Reno-Sparks NAACP, brought her grandson, Boston, in a stroller to a brief demonstration in front of the U.S. attorney’s office in Reno with another half dozen activists who held up photographs of Brown.
“I got racially profiled just the other day,” Gallimore said. “My bad. I was driving a raggedy car. I had just backed out of my driveway and was pulled over. It happens all the time if you are driving around and you are black. We have to put a stop to it.”
Brown was unarmed when he was shot Aug. 9 by Wilson, who is white. A grand jury is considering evidence in the case, and a federal investigation is also underway.
Police have said a scuffle broke out after Wilson told Brown and a friend to move out of the street and onto a sidewalk. Police said Wilson was pushed into his squad car and physically assaulted. Some witnesses have reported seeing Brown’s arms in the air — an act of surrender. An autopsy found Brown was shot at least six times.
Theresa Navarro, chairwoman of PLAN’s board of directors, said before delivering the letter to the Reno office of U.S. Attorney Dan Bogden that authorities have added to the confusion by withholding from the public important information about the shooting.
“We really don’t have any specific details, and it’s been two weeks,” she said. “This is not an isolated incident. It happens all over the country.”
Culinary Union Local 226, the Northern Nevada Latino Alliance, DREAM Big Vegas and GetEqual Nevada also signed the letter to Holder.
“While we appreciate your visit to Ferguson last week, and your pledge to conduct a thorough investigation of Michael Brown’s killing, we demand that you take immediate action to bring Michael Brown’s killer to justice and put a stop to police violence in Ferguson and across the country by undertaking reforms to bring transparency and accountability to local police departments,” the letter said.
Navarro said the list of demands came from the Ferguson-based Organization for Black Struggle. It also calls for the immediate de-escalation of “militarized policing of peaceful protesters” and the release of anyone who was arrested after participating in the right to assemble and peacefully protest.