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Statement of Bishop Mariann Budde and Dean Gary Hall on the Grand Jury Decision in the Case of Michael Brown

For Immediate Release
Contact Jim Naughton

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Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington and Dean Gary Hall of Washington National Cathedral have released the following statement on the grand jury decision in the case of Michael Brown:

As we watch with all America the events unfolding in Ferguson, Missouri, the words of Martin Luther King echo in our ears: “A riot is the language of the unheard.” While we cannot condone the violent response of some protestors, the anger on display in the wake of the grand jury’s decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown has little to do with social media or the 24-hour news cycle, as District Attorney Robert P. McCulloch has suggested. It has everything to do with the persistence of systemic racism in the American justice system. African Americans had reason to hope that in the case of Michael Brown an armed police officer would at last be charged in the killing of unarmed black teenager. And yet, after a grand jury process that many legal experts have called into question, they had further evidence that in the American justice system, the lives of black youth are valued less than those of their white counterparts.

With Richard Cohen, president of the Southern Poverty Law Center, we believe "that the events in Ferguson have made vivid just how wide the gulf is between the police and those who are policed in so many communities in our country. It’s a gulf that’s been formed by the history of discrimination in our country, a gulf that has been deepened by the systemic biases in our current criminal justice system. It’s a gulf that breeds suspicion and mistrust, a gulf that undermines the very legitimacy of our system of justice."

 We support the Attorney General’s efforts to investigate further both the larger problem of racial bias in our justice system and the case of Michael Brown, and we call all people of faith and good will to join us at our prayer vigil in Washington National Cathedral at 3 p.m. on December 11 when we will remember all of victims of gun violence in our schools, our houses of worship, and on our city streets.

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The Episcopal Diocese of Washington comprises 45,000 people engaging a changing world with an enduring faith in Jesus Christ in 89 congregations in the District of Columbia and the Maryland counties of Montgomery, Prince George’s Charles and Saint Mary’s.

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