Demo photo Black Lives Matter sign

UPDATED November 25, 2014

At the Institute for Policy Studies, we are deeply appalled about recent events in Ferguson, Missouri, including the killing of Michael Brown and the complete exoneration of the police officer who killed him.

We stand behind the brave protesters who are rightfully outraged by the killing of Michael Brown, and we believe that the police response to protesters has been shockingly militarized and incompetently handled. Learning from  the long years of our institution’s history of work with the civil rights movement of the 1960s and our tradition of public scholarship committed to exposing and correcting injustice and inequality, we believe that the murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson is not an isolated event but rather is a symptom of a society in which power is running amok with the wrong priorities and values. Ferguson exposes how America has invested heavily in militarization while disinvesting in public welfare and security. As U.S. ground wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere are replaced by air wars and special forces operations, the U.S. General Services Administration provides billions of dollars of free military weapons to local police [1] forces claiming this “offers Americans peace of mind.” Ferguson illuminates how the 1 percent wages class warfare on the poor by destroying the economic livelihood of ordinary people while criminalizing poverty. And it shows us how African-Americans are hit harder by structural racism than any other group.


  • In the United States, one person of color is killed by a police officer, security guard, or vigilante Every 28 hours [2].
  • After 9/11, local police departments across the country spent upwards of $34 billion in federal grant money to purchase military grade supplies [3].
  • In Ferguson, African-Americans are arrested at a rate four times higher than whites, outpacing both national and state comparisons [4].
  • In Ferguson, as nationwide, African-Americans are twice as likely to be living in poverty as whites [5].
  • In Ferguson, African-Americans are three times more likely to be unemployed than whites [6].
  • At the national level, blacks are twice as likely to be unemployed as whites [7].
  • That means unemployment for African-Americans in Ferguson, Missouri is even worse than the national average for African-Americans.


While Ferguson exposes the values and priorities that have run amok in the United States, it also demonstrates that ordinary people have the power to fight back. Inspired by the brave protesters in Ferguson, grassroots movements around the country and the world are banding together in solidarity. IPS’ Climate Policy Program, as an active member of the Climate Justice Alliance has endorsed the Alliance’s call for “building a movement that affirms life and where everyone has a place in the rebuilding and stewardship of our communities – not where people are killed, warehoused or discarded. Part of our task is to develop a fair and just system of justice, safety and accountability, and we stand in solidarity with the families and organizations in our communities fighting for such a system.”

Writing from occupied Palestine, the leaders of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, of which IPS’ New Internationalism is a part, noted that “In response to the people’s demands for justice for Michael Brown and an end to police brutality against African Americans, police in Ferguson have shamefully launched a militarized attack against unarmed protestors. Heavily deploying tear gas and rubber bullets, police tactics partially reflected the training that some of the law enforcement agencies involved in Ferguson had received from Israeli security forces in recent years, as revealed [8] in media reports. We recognize those tactics being used in Ferguson and the mentality behind them. The dehumanization of the victim, the corporate media distortions of the realities, the obfuscation of the root causes of the protests, and the methods of unbridled violence and control being used by security forces are all too familiar to Palestinians living under Israel’s decades-old occupation” [9].

IPS’ Break the Chain Campaign is doing its part in the National Domestic Workers Alliance by signing on to the Women for Women in Fersugson statement [10]. A growing list of at least 58  LGBT and civil rights organizations have joined together and signed onto a open letter in support Of Michael Brown’s family [11]. For the killing of Michael Brown to truly be the last one, we need to support these movements and work to address the systemic problems in our country today.

Take action today to support the brave Ferguson protesters and the grassroots movements who are behind them.

  1. Join us in supporting the NAACP’s call for a special prosecutor to investigate the killing of Michael Brown. Sign the petition.
  2. Call on the Obama administration to appoint a commission similiar to the Kerner Commission, but this commission should instead assess and recommend practical solutions to the nation-wide epidemic of police killings in the U.S. [12]
  3.  Also try these “10 Ways You Can Help The People Of Ferguson, Missouri”
[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] killing-black-youth [9] [10] [11] [12]

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