A group of about 25 protestors gathered on the steps of the state Capitol Wednesday with handmade signs chanting, “Hands up, don’t shoot,” just as thousands of other activists gathered in large cities across the country. The group, while small in numbers, was there to show their support of Michael Brown, the black teenager shot and killed by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, this summer.
On Monday, a Missouri prosecutor announced a grand jury would not indict the officer, Darren Wilson, on charges in the death, but a U.S. Department of Justice investigation into the operations of the city’s police force is on going.
Greg Suzanne McAllister organized the Charleston protest which included members from multiple organizations including her fledging group Mothers of Color America, the NAACP, business owners and others.
“We just wanted to stand in solidarity today,” McAllister said. “Justice delayed is justice denied.”
The Charleston protest was about more than just Brown and his death, McAllister said. It was also about standing for the unnamed African American men and women in West Virginia who have been gunned down by police.
“We know our people here are not immune to that type of discrimination,” she said. “It’s important that we stand together no matter what our race is against injustice.”
McAllister said the response in West Virginia to the Ferguson shooting was likely smaller because of the overall population, but also because of the lack of diversity. Only about 3 percent of the state's population is African American.
Still, McAllister pointed to statistics that show West Virginia incarcerates African Americans at a much higher rate than whites in both the adult and juvenile justice system, meaning a change is necessary, she said.