ACLU-TN Statement on the Fatal Shooting of Brandon Webber

Affiliate: ACLU of Tennessee
June 13, 2019 5:15 pm

ACLU Affiliate
ACLU of Tennessee
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. – On the evening of June 12, members of the Gulf Coast Regional Fugitive Task Force, part of the U.S. Marshals Service, were involved in the fatal shooting of 20-year-old Brandon Webber.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is investigating.

The shooting was followed by protests in the Frayser area of Memphis.

American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee executive director Hedy Weinberg released the following statement in response:

“The ACLU of Tennessee extends its condolences to the family and friends of Brandon Webber. The loss of any and every young person’s life is a tragedy.

While facts continue to emerge about the details of Mr. Webber’s killing at the hands of one or more United States marshals, many questions arise. Were any attempts made at de-escalation or resolving the situation in a different way? Was shooting Mr. Webber over a dozen times, if reports are accurate, really necessary?

Official answers could take months to come out – in the meantime, the community is reeling. The response in Frayser to the shooting last night was clearly one of pain, of frustration, of anger.

While we in no way condone violence against police officers, the boiling point reached by some individuals in the crowd last night is the consequence of decades of injustice, discrimination and violence against Black people in Memphis and beyond.

Indeed, just days before Mr. Webber’s killing by U.S. marshals, the Shelby County district attorney announced that a Memphis police officer would not face any charges for the fatal shooting of a young, unarmed Black man, Terrance Carlton, while he was lying on the ground. This is, of course, but one of many examples of a police killing where there are no charges against the officers, nor convictions, even in the face of video evidence.

Regardless of what Mr. Carlton, or Mr. Webber – or anyone – is accused of, in our country when someone is accused of a crime, we have a thing called due process.

Of course people in Frayser are upset and angry. We should all be angry.

No doubt in the coming days, we will hear more and more about Brandon Webber. We will hear about the warrants out for his arrest. We will hear about things he said on social media or things he is accused of doing. We will hear less about his children, or his parents, or his dreams for what his life could have been.

To ignore the pain of those protesting in Memphis – instead responding with a militarized show of police force – only illustrates and reinforces the problem. To adapt the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., unrest is the language of the unheard.

To stem the erosion of trust between the community and law enforcement, it is incumbent on Memphis leaders to start listening.

This means acknowledging the community’s legitimate pain and anger.

It means allowing space for community members to grieve together and to protest peacefully together, without facing assault-style weapons and riot gear.

It means a swift, thorough and transparent investigation into Mr. Webber’s killing, including the prompt release of body camera and other footage and evidence.

And it means current and future elected officials taking ongoing steps to enact meaningful reforms, together with community members, to prevent future violence at the hands of law enforcement and to begin to rebuild trust.”

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