Could Public Outrage at Michael Brown Shooting Death and Widespread Police Brutality Inspire New Civil Rights Movement?

Posted Aug. 27, 2014

MP3 Interview with Vernellia Randall, emeritus professor of law at the University of Dayton, Ohio, conducted by Scott Harris


After two weeks of protest, militarized police response and street violence in Ferguson, Missouri, the body of Michael Brown, the unarmed 18-year-old African American shot to death by a white police officer, was laid to rest after an emotional funeral ceremony attended by thousands. Among those speaking at the funeral were civil rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton and family members who called for justice in the case, expressing the desire by many in Ferguson for the police officer who shot Brown, Darren Wilson, to be indicted for murder. A grand jury is now weighing evidence in the case, and a federal investigation is also underway.

Eric Davis, Michael Brown’s cousin, urged those attending the funeral to vote in local elections and push for change, declaring that the community has had "enough of the senseless killings." While Ferguson’s population is two-thirds African American, the mayor and five of the six members of the City Council are white. The town’s 53-member police department employs only three African-American officers.

New evidence in the case emerged on Aug. 25 when an audio recording was produced by a man who lives in an apartment building near the site of the shooting. The audio recorded in a video chat reportedly captures the sound of as many as 11 gunshots being fired in the Aug. 9 incident. An independent autopsy found that Brown was shot six times, twice in the head. Between The Lines' Scott Harris spoke with Vernellia Randall, emeritus professor of law at the University of Dayton, Ohio, who discusses the divisive issues laid bare in the police shooting death of Michael Brown – and the possibility that this latest incident in a pattern of police abuse in minority communities could inspire a new civil rights movement.

Find links to more news and commentary on the Michael Brown shooting by visiting Vernellia Randall's website, "Race, Racism and the Law," at

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