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A Letter to the Unified Command

November 24, 2014

As we await the return of the Grand Jury’s decision, ArchCity Defenders, Brendan Roediger of Saint Louis University School of Law, and Denise Lieberman of the Advancement Project authored a letter to the Unified Command requesting that its members respect the Constitutional rights of protesters and commit to not engaging in any unconstitutional activity during the anticipated protests following the announcement of the Grand Jury’s decision.  Since Mike Brown’s killing on August 9th, our institutions have not only deviated from long-standing principles the law but also their own promises regarding policing the protests.

Immediately following Mike Brown’s death, governmental agencies acted to intimidate protesters, unjustifiably denounced them as violent, impeded their entry or exit from demonstrations, assaulted them with chemical agents such as pepper spray, shot them with so-called “less-than-lethal” projectiles, rounded them up in mass arrests seemingly without probably cause, sought exaggerated charges, and abused them while in custody.

In recent weeks, the Don’t Shoot Coalition issued proposed Rules of Engagement as part of ongoing conversations with law enforcement centering on the protection of Constitutional rights during protests.  As recently as 72 hours ago, the police have violated not only rules with which they indicated agreement but also apparently a preliminary injunction won by the ACLU of Missouri.

Given the fact that police in Ferguson and St. Louis County have violated the Constitutional rights of citizens exercising their First Amendment rights in the past and that they have violated their agreed upon Rules of Engagement as recently as a few days ago, we have genuine cause for concern that these rights will not be protected in the days following the Grand Jury’s decision.

As part of our fight for justice in the region, ArchCity Defenders believes the courts and law enforcement ought to be held to the highest standards.  We believe that a system that expects its citizens to follow the law should follow the law itself.  We have trained professionals in these positions and they should expect nothing less than the utmost professionalism and respect for the law.

As such, we call on the Unified Command to follow the law, protect the Constitutional rights of citizens, and to pledge not to act in any way that infringes on those rights following the announcement of the Darren Wilson Grand Jury.  The attached letter lays out all of the signees concerns.

You can read our letter by clicking the link below.

Letter to Unified Command

This is a joint letter from the following:

Vince Warren, Executive Director

Purvi Shah, Staff Attorney

Center for Constitutional Rights

Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, Executive Director

The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund

William P. Quigley, Professor of Law

Loyola University New Orleans

Justin Hansford, Professor of Law

St. Louis University School of Law

John Ammann, Professor of Law

St. Louis University School of Law

Sarah K. Molina, Esq.

Molina Immigration Law, LLC.

William T. Quick, Member of the Board

National Lawyers Guild – St. Louis

Joseph P. Welch, Member of the Board

National Lawyers Guild – St. Louis

Maggie Ellinger-Locke, President

National Lawyers Guild, St. Louis Chapter