Community Leaders, Activists Will Meet in Wake of Ferguson Decision

Roxbury Revered Jeffrey Brown is organizing a speak-out forum with Mayor Marty Walsh and the general public.

Image via Associated Press

Image via Associated Press

Church leaders and local activist groups are holding a forum in Roxbury Tuesday night in direct response to the grand jury’s decision not to indict a Ferguson, Missouri police officer who shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown back in August.

The neighborhood meeting, which is open to the public, will be held at the Twelfth Baptist Church at 6 p.m., and is a chance for residents and elected officials to come together and talk about racial disparity in the city, as well as listen to the “unheard voices” of the community, said Reverend Jeffrey Brown, who organized the event.

“The events of last night, and the decision that was made, has touched and affected a lot of people deeply,” he said. “And it’s important to give voice to those feelings. For the city of Boston, it affords us a unique opportunity to explore some of the thorny issues we are often reluctant to talk about.”

On Monday evening, a Missouri prosecutor announced that no charges would be brought against Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in connection with the summer shooting death of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teeneager. The decision led to unrest in the Missouri town, with riots breaking out and a heavy police response.

Rev. Brown said he’s expecting members of the local chapter of the NAACP, Urban League, and City Councilors to be in attendance at the church Tuesday night. He also said Mayor Marty Walsh and staffers from his administration will gather for the informal talk.

In a statement, Walsh said the grand jury’s decision has been “an incredibly emotional and difficult process for all involved,” and he encourages people to show up at the forum to offer insight into how to take away lessons from that decision, and strengthen the local community.

“We do anticipate public demonstrations following this decision, and we welcome these expressions, done respectfully, responsibly, and peacefully,” he said. “The Boston Police Department has been working closely with a wide range of community members to ensure the highest level of collaboration and unity tonight and in the coming days.”

Last night, hundreds of people gathered in Boston to show support for Michael Brown by staging a peaceful protest near the steps of the State House on Beacon Hill. Similar protests are expected in the coming days.

Rev. Brown said he’s hoping that people from all across the city will come together to discuss the inequalities that persist throughout Boston, so that people can move forward in a positive light following the events in Ferguson.

“How do we mobilize and get beyond this? Conditions exist where you have got a mayor that wants to listen and hear these things, and we have an opportunity to start a process on these topics,” said Rev. Brown, who spent time in Ferguson back in October, to help mobilize neighborhood protests pending the grand jury’s deliberations. “I think folks are ready to have the conversation of what makes this city divided and what we can do to unite the city to become the ‘One Boston’ we hope it can be.”