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NASW Statement on Ferguson Grand Jury Decision

With the issuance of the St. Louis County grand jury decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, the National Association of Social Workers urges reforms that would help end the excessive use of police force.

The association also hopes this tragic incident will put increased public attention on the larger issues of ending police racial profiling and improving the way police interact with people living with disabilities and mental illnesses.

NASW supports reforms that could prevent unnecessary police shootings from occurring. These include:

  • National standards on the use of lethal police force.
  • National standards on how police handle persons living with mental illnesses or disabilities.
  • Training to help end police bias and racial profiling when dealing with people of color.
  • Making body cameras standard police equipment.

In the aftermath of the grand jury decision NASW urges the public to use peaceful means to improve relations between communities and the police who serve them.

NASW supports the U.S. Justice Department’s continuing efforts to bring about police reforms and improve community policing. The association encourages the Justice Department to review the Ferguson incident to determine whether civil rights violations charges should be filed.

NASW also encourages its members and the wider social work community to become involved in activities and organizations that are active in bringing about policing reforms.

 

156 comments

  1. You announce your position even before you’ve heard the entire announcement made by the prosecutor?! Unbelievable.

    • This is a basic correlation: disproportionate police-involve shootings of people of color is an issue regardless of the decision to indict or not. Mike Brown’s death has re-ignited a conversation that is consistently lacking in this country, outside of communities of color. In 2014 alone, there have been a pretty stunning number of unarmed black men killed by excessive police force. To base the decision to address systemic oppression on a grand jury indictment of a single case is a colossal logical mistake. Regardless of the indictment decision, social workers should be front and center in the case for police reform.

    • I’m not a social worker. My girlfriend is a social worker. She linked me to this site. What I am is a prosecutor of 9 years.

      Quiet frankly, it is embarrassing and disturbing to think that some of you are social workers. How some of you actually believe racial profiling is useful and that most blacks are criminals is embarrassing.

      Any of you who have these beliefs need to get out of social work…your inner hatred will consume you.

      • Jason Thank you for saying that. Until someone of another race actually lives the life of an African American more importantly an African American male they will never know how hard it is for them and the race as a whole. Everything they do they have to do twice as better as the next just to be seen as accomplished. It’s sad that this is the world that we live in.

  2. I have become increasingly disappointed with the presumptive position NASW exhibits. More specifically, this letter assumes there was excessive police force yet this organization was not present in the court room nor did it bare witness to the facts of the case. It is unscrupulous for scholars of the social sciences to fall to the emotional fever fed by media influence and mob behavior.

    • I couldn’t agree more! Well said, Andrea!

    • which words specifically assume that there was excessive force in this case. I see a statement that talks about excessive force in general.

    • AND EXACTLY WHAT is presumptive about what the NASW is saying???!!! Are YOU kidding me right now??? Soooooo, racial profiling of African-Americans on a daily basis does not exist??? What world do you live in??? Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr.- a Harvard Professor for Christ sakes, profiled on his OWN front lawn by HARVARD police. REALLY??? Noone needs to be present in ANY courtroom to know that racism STILL exist and is alive an well and that left it up to the Darren Wilson’s and Zimmerman’s in this country, they would STILL be hanging Blacks from trees. SO STOP IT. Check research and statistics on mass incarceration of blacks in this country, the school to prison pipeline, the disparities in education, employment, housing, etc.- do i need to name more??? WHAT social work school did YOU come from??? GEESH.

    • Social Workers have you read your code of ethics?

      I personally know OUR NASW lobbyist has been up to date on the legislation and legal proceedings related to this case.

      What was wrong with this statement that NASW has made? I am afraid that many of you are misguided. This is much bigger than many of you realize. Racial discrimination and inequality remain ongoing and pervasive problems all across the country. This is not an isolated issue, and racial profiling and the militarization of police has been an issue all over the country for a while. This is includes humiliating and often frightening detentions, interrogations, and searches without evidence of criminal activity and based on perceived race, ethnicity, national origin or religion.

      Why do community police departments need helicopters and tanks, and other military style equipment? our local police are using military weapons and tactics for everyday policing…”Military weaponry, equipment, and vehicles obtained from or funded by federal agencies such as the Departments of Defense and/or Homeland Security”…, this is a threat to EVERYONE.

      War Comes Home: The Excessive Militarization of American Policing

      “All across the country, heavily armed SWAT teams are raiding people’s homes in the middle of the night, often just to search for drugs. It should enrage us that people have needlessly died during these raids, that pets have been shot, and that homes have been ravaged. Our neighborhoods are not warzones, and police officers should not be treating us like wartime enemies……

      https://www.aclu.org/war-comes-home-excessive-militarization-american-policing

      From the American Civil Liberties Union …this is a civil rights, racial justice issue

      The grand jury’s decision does not negate the fact that Michael Brown’s tragic death is part of an alarming national trend of officers using excessive force against people of color, often during routine encounters. Yet in most cases, the officers and police departments are not held accountable. While many officers carry out their jobs with respect for the communities they serve, we must confront the profound disconnect and disrespect that many communities of color experience with their local law enforcement.
      The ACLU will continue to fight for racial justice. We must end the prevailing policing paradigm where police departments are more like occupying forces, imposing their will to control communities. This ‘us vs. them’ policing antagonizes communities by casting a blanket of suspicion over entire neighborhoods, often under the guise of preventing crime

      https://www.aclu.org/aclu-response-ferguson

    • I am a Social Worker, and I could not agree more with Andrea Seeger about the presumptive position NASW always hold on any social issue, and in this case despite the facts as they have been presented. The NASW narrative is always, and I mean always liberal if not ultra liberal, as if that is the only acceptable Social Work opinion. An organization that is not even aware of it’s own closed-minded biases, is an organization that no longer represents me as a more conservative Social Worker of over 30 years. This case was about a man who violated the law by just robbing a store, was identified correctly (nothing about profiling as he actually was the man who committed the crime), and then tried to wrestle the gun from a policeman trying to do his duty to respond to the crime. He did not put his hands up to surrender despite the popular narrative, and unfortunately was shot attacking the policeman. We as Social Workers have an obligation to examine the facts of a case, not just give a knee jerk response based on the professions predominantly liberal leanings. On other cases, there maybe examples of police brutality as in the poor man wrestled to the ground for selling individual cigarettes, but that had nothing to do with race (as there were black and white and hispanic officers present). It may have related to the phenomenon that can happen when authority feels it must win and gets carried away with a we vs. them (cops vs the public or offenders) attitude and group peer pressure. My point is we need to discern the truth in each situation. I know the real life history of abuse of blacks pre-civil rights era, and believe me, I will uphold our stance on those real events when they occur. We must make sure what the situation involves though, not assume some preconceived narrative. I can no longer keep my membership in NASW, as I see it as an organization that disenfranchises me, the conservative but conscientious and caring Social Worker, as if I am somehow not a true Social Worker.

  3. I am very thankful that NASW did not issue a statement supporting or disagreeing with the specific decision not to indict. I a so thankful that NASW used this as an opportunity to encourage peaceful, authentic dialogue about some really rather tough and painful issues. Thank you so much.

  4. While I agree that there needs to be reforms regarding profiling, police brutality and improved relations between law enforcement and the community they serve, your statement “The association also hopes this tragic incident will put increased public attention on the larger issues of ending police racial profiling and improving the way police interact with people living with disabilities and mental illnesses.” would cause someone who has not followed the story and listened to the statement of the Prosecutor to believe Mr. Brown had a disability or mental illness. These are two different issues (the need for various reforms in law enforcement AND the Michael Brown situation). I believe your statement muddies the current situation.

  5. So predictable that social workers consumed with leftists politics would completely ignore the facts in this particular case in order to jump on the bandwagon of victimology. Years ago, we were taught as social workers to encourage self-determination. Now, most social workers are just glorified politicians, helping people to become dependent on government, to give away their self-determination in order to seethe in anger and racial hatred. I am embarrassed to be a social worker with such nonsense being spouted by those who are supposed to know better.

    • Agreed. 100% Well-written.

    • KC,

      I disagree that “Now, most social workers are just glorified politicians, helping people to become dependent on government, to give away their self determination in order to seethe in anger and racial hatred.” While I am new in this profession I have interacted with social workers for many years as a nurse both as a civilian and as a member of the military. My professors teach us policy from both sides of the isle (though I agree that generally their is a left slant). I was very surprised to see this statement because I agree with others that the release was premature, the wording muddled the issues and I find it very difficult to criticize an action that had to have been made in a split second. Anyone who has worked as a first responder or in a forward area would have to agree. I’m disappointed in the NASW for the statement but I’m also disappointed in KC for this sweeping and inaccurate statement as well.

    • Has anyone in NASW conducted any research to see if there is a rational basis for “racial profiling” by law enforcement? The last I heard, the majority of crimes were committed by minorities who happen to live in poverty.

      What have we done as a profession to determine effective ways of fighting poverty? We keep pumping involuntary contributions from U.S. citizens (aka tax monies) into programs that have done little to alleviate the causes of poverty.

      What are we doing as a profession to support forensic Social Workers and our partners in law enforcement?

      This NASW statement merely echoed the mob sentiments, and made no reference to the due process of the legal system in determining whether or not to indicte the police officer who shot Mr. Brown. It’s time to change, NASW….listen to the voices posting here! Perhaps our Affirmative Action policy should include at least one registered Republican or Libertarian on the National Board, Chapter Boards, CONLI and Delegate Assembly. It’s only fair….

      • It’s a shame to see some of these replies. As a young aspiring social worker, I am embarrassed to see some of you reply negatively to this statement. I don’t believe the NASW is perfect, but this statement is fairly neutral. But I can hear the racist sentiments in these replies. You demand more scientific approaches to the issue, and yet there has been a robust presentation of literature on the issue of law enforcement brutality, and unequal treatment of blacks by the department of justic and/or state criminal justice systems. Your the reason social work is being held back as a truly global movement to fix this world. Please retire and never return to the field. Your views are not competent, and worse, some of you completely misconstrue important values like self-determination. Please do better than this.

        • Thank you for your reply, I totally agree! The amount of underlying racism and racist tones to some of these remarks is embarrassing to the Social Work, Social Welfare, and Social Justice professions. No wonder some people are leery of Social Workers, if this is what Universities are pumping out.

        • Andy,
          Keep strong young social worker! I am a fairly seasoned LCSW (licensed for 10 years and in the profession for 20) and I absolutely agree with your observations of the comments posted in this thread. I feel saddened, angered, disgusted and embarrassed to read comments of others in this profession that fuel the myth of meritocracy, ignore systemic and institutionalized discrimination, and further racist macro and micro aggressions. Frankly, I felt disappointed by the NASW statement because I don’t think it took a strong enough stance. I believe it is important to name the systemic oppression that Black men and people of color face in this country. It is important for our country, and a duty for social workers, to be aware of the visible and invisible processes that contribute to the experiences of Black men and people of color; including but not limited to: racism, hate crimes, violence, discrimination, and microaggressions. As social workers, we have a duty to engage in and support the continued dialogue about how to facilitate change on an individual and systemic level. Seems like it is time for many to reread your NASW Code of Ethics!
          Keep up the fight Andy! The social work profession NEEDS you…and we’re not all oblivious.
          #BlackLivesMatter

      • Beth ~ “Perhaps our Affirmative Action policy should include at least one registered Republican or Libertarian on the National Board, Chapter Boards, CONLI and Delegate Assembly. It’s only fair….” Beth, what an audacious, revolutionary concept . . . one that I endorse but, unfortunately, believe would never be adopted.

      • As much as it may be difficult for you to imagine, the overwhelming majority of violent crime is not actually committed by people of color. In fact, multiple victim violent crimes (serial murder, mass casualty, etc) are actually almost exclusively white males. In fact, for violent crimes, the FBI puts white offenders in the majority of arrests. It’s not that there’s some agenda behind ending racial profiling: it’s math. The actual mathematics of it don’t agree with your worldview. However, there’s a very heavy amount of statistical/empirical evidence to support the notion that racist policies have put people of color at a disproportionate likelihood of being stopped (likely because they have the same reasoning as you). It’s actually quite astounding, given how hard the system is stacked in favor of the incarceration of people of color, that white folks still occupy such a large portion of arrests. If you cannot accept that systems of oppression play a critical role in the continuance of criminality in the united states, then you are frankly in the wrong field.

      • Hello Beth,

        Most arrest data reveals that the public’s perception of the “typical criminal offender” as an African-American is generally inaccurate.

        According to Crimes in the United States (2008) the United States Department of Justice (2009) reports examination of the arrest statistics for all offenses, for instance, reveals that the typical offender is white; more than two-thirds (69.2 percent) of those arrested in 2008 were white, less than one-third (28.3 percent) were African American, and less than 3 percent were Native American or Asian. Similarly, more than half of those arrested for violent crimes and roughly two-thirds of those arrested for property crimes were white. In fact, the only crimes for which the typical offender was African American were murder, robbery, and gambling. (cited in Walker, Spohn, & DeLone, 2012 p. 60, 61).

        Reference

        Crime in the United States, 2008 (Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, 2009). Available at
        http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/cius2008/data/table_43.html.

    • I am proud of my profession and I certainly DO NOT work only to help people obtain government assistance. I work to educate and empower people who suffer from addiction, mental illness, and poverty. I am, however, ashamed of social workers like yourself and others who give our profession a bad reputation. Regardless if the decision by the grand jury, I think it’s obvious that reforms need to be made in policing. It makes a lot more sense to disable a perpetrator by shooting him/her in the arm, hand, leg, etc. than it dies to shoot him/her six times in areas sure to cause death.

    • What’s not being discussed? Don’t only blame the officers who commit these crimes while attempting to serve its public and communities. Imagery is also a culprit, when the officer in question refers to young Micheal Brown (who appears to have a less than average muscle tone for African American teen) as “HULK” like; that lets me know there is a huge perception problem along with a race issue in our country. Too often African Americans males are presented as bad guys, villains, murderers, law breakers. It’s not a coincidence that people clutch their bags, follow us around in stores, hold their children’s hand, cross to the other side of the street when we come pass or that it’s harder for Black men to flag a cab; the image media creates of us drives the fear that most of White America has of us. The irony is that African Americans are less likely to commit crimes; however we are the ones who are arrested, prosecuted and incarcerated. This is what divides us; white families are not concerned that their teenage sons will be shot for shop-lifting multiple times while unarmed, killed; the killer not indicted and never having to explain his actions; ever. This is what is happening to our African American sons routinely all over this great country; we loose sleep with these thoughts on our minds every time our sons leaves our homes. We believe contact with the authorities is one of the most dangerous situations our sons can be face. You think; great he’s with the police everything will be okay; that is the difference.

      I do agree there should be changes made regarding the use of deadly force; an unarmed suspect should never be subjected to multiple gun shots and/or killed by multiple gun shots with those pulling the trigger able to justify that action by simply saying “That is what I was trained to do”.

      I also agree training is needed to address the lack of compassion displayed by law enforcement for individuals who suffer from mental illness; I think back to the video of a white officer beating the “day lights” out of an unarmed, defenseless woman. She was homeless the likely hood of her suffering some form of mental illness was highly likely.

      Police officers are always receiving training on sensitivity, cultural differences, community and race relations; what has to be addressed is the careless portrayal of African Americans as such horrific, brutal and mindless people. We are people who are kind, forgiving, humorous, insightful and loving. We are also athletic, sensitive, protective, supportive and smart. We love family and having a good time; just like all other Americans.

      Body cameras? Sure, why not; my skepticism comes from knowing that there has been countless acts of police brutality caught on tape in the past as well as in our present day; how has that worked out……

      When White America sees us the same way they see themselves; police brutality will stop. Why? Because, you tend to have compassion for what you associate with or belong to; One America……

  6. Change definitely needs to be made! I would like to become involved in bringing about policing reforms.

  7. I hope you all listened to the facts. I dint support this release at all.

  8. thank you for the timely position statement…

  9. As a forensic social worker, how do you know force was excessive? Police officers are put in risk everyday. If you can’t follow simple police directives, then I’m sorry but that’s what happens.

    • I agree with you!

      • A young man lost his life after being shot with his arms raised from behind.

        This caused an outcry from the African American community because it has too long suffered in silence. Tragic events such as this happen every day and are put into terms that place the fault on the victim, and are explained in language that states, “if he had just explained it was a toy gun,” or “if he had just kept silent.”

        Your opinion comes from a place of privilege and and an ignorance for the lineage of oppression and shame inflicted on the African American community. Reflect on the life of that boy before spreading that type of hatred into the world, especially among your colleagues, who work to fight social injustice.

    • That’s what happens to Black men Kelly. Rarely does it happen to White folks. As a social worker, I firmly believe no one’s life should be taken from them simply because they don’t “follow police directives” — that’s called resisting arrest, and the penalty for that is not death. No one should be killed because they run away, or are surrendering with their hands up.

    • I agree with you.

    • Shooting an un armed man 12 times isn’t necessary.

    • Death happens? If you put your hands up you deserve to die?

    • Yes! Exactly! So sad to see this statement by NASW which reminds me exactly why I am no longer a member!

    • Yes, if break the law and then can’t follow police directives you may get shot. Police certainly have a right to protect themselves. And if they shoot people to protect others no one complains. But Mr. Brown was shot Twelve times!

    • “Kelley: How do you know force was excessive?” Was 6 fatal gun shots not enough, including one to the head? Wilson didn’t even have his taser because they aren’t comfortable: “I normally don’t carry a Taser. We only have a select amount. Usually there is one available, but I usually elect not to carry one. It is not the most comfortable thing. They are very large.” Granted, given the entire context, I’m not saying that the grand jury’s verdict didn’t suffice, however police brutatlity is one of the issues suggested we examine critically and pursue action in reforming.

  10. I cannot support NASW speaking on behalf of all Social Workers with a position that concludes & generalizes wrongdoing…this is an opportunity to encourage reform without fueling more hostility & sense of victimization. Changes are needed of course, but this was worded with a shameful bias. I am ashamed of this release. 40 years of selfless community service has been an honor to empower people to work for change with mutual respect. You owe the rest of us an apology for misrepresenting as if we all agree with this bias

  11. How about a position paper on young men not robbing a store. We would not even be having this discussion had Mr Brown decides NOT to rob a store. Where are his parents when he was committing a crime. Enough excuses and enough blaming. It’s time for African Americans to police there own and parent their children. The moral of the story is don’t go out and steal. This is certainly not a fair association. What about the policeman’s rights to survive?

    • Should he be killed even if he robbed a store? In earlier news releases it was noted that the officer did not have knowledge of a crime. Reports also stated he stole cigars.

    • First of all, he didn’t ROB a store. He stole something. BIG difference. And stealing doesn’t justify someone taking my like. Especially if I was unarmed. I have made mistakes as a treen and stolen things and thank God, my life was spared because obviously teens can get shot for that! If the officer felt threaten, he could have restrained Brown. Brown charges at hom with his fist, not a weapon. I get charged at daily by the children I work with and have never THOUGHT about using any type of form towards them. It’s called self control. Let’s do a paper on that! Please stop making excuses!

    • Are African Americans the only ones that do not parent their children? Does everyone that rob a store deserve to die?

    • First of all, he didn’t ROB a store. He stole something. BIG difference. And stealing doesn’t justify someone taking my like. Especially if I was unarmed. I have made mistakes as a treen and stolen things and thank God my life was spared because obviously teens can get shot for that! If the officer felt threaten, he could have restrained Brown. Brown charged at him with his fist, not a weapon. I get charged at daily by the children I work with and have never THOUGHT about using any type of form towards them. It’s called self control. Let’s do a paper on that! Please stop making excuses!

    • What a broad statement regarding African Americans and their parenting skills. You have spoken clearly of your alignment of service and social work values.

    • The police officer had no idea that he robbed a store. So that is irrelevant. Get your facts straight please. Your comment saying people of color need to parent more etc is beyond racist. There’ is the same problem with poor white trash ( I am a white male) you make a bad name for social workers not this website

    • C The police officer had no idea that he robbed a store. So that is irrelevant. Get your facts straight please. Your comment saying people of color need to parent more etc is beyond racist. There’ is the same problem with poor white trash ( I am a white male) you make a bad name for social workers not this website

    • Wow if your intent was to display your ignorance for all to wutness… well done! I pray that you don’t practice any form of social work with such broad racist stereotypes. How disgusting!

    • Education is very important and the media is a very bad resource. Mike did not rob the store firstly just to provide you with a fact. Secondly all children (black, white, mexican, asian..etc) make mistakes big and small check the statistics. When we as people learn better we do better. See this shouldn’t be about race it should be about protecting our children regardless of race. This should be about educating ourselves as well as our children on the issues in society today. Children are killing themselves and other children , yet you are blaming black people for this. Dude you need a social worker quickly as well as prayer.

    • Good lord– proofread your “work.” That’s just embarrassing.

    • “African Americans to police there own and parent their own children”? As social workers we are supposed to have an awareness of the social connotation that impacts the lives of those who are oppressed and marginalized in communities in the macro sense. Most importantly, we advocate for social injustice and the community at large. In this sense, we can cannot have a “they” and “us” attitude and be affective change agents.

    • Stealing does not warrant an execution in the street without being charged or having a trial. Police are not judges/juries/executioner… This should be a relatively simple concept to understand.

    • I am not sure you can group ALL African Americans together and if you are I surely hope you are not practicing in our communities.

    • Very stereotypical; African Americans need to police and parent they’re children? Explain yourself. I wouldn’t judge a whole race on ones actions

    • My son was taken down by police while sitting on his friends porch, with permission. A 16 year old boy, preparing to go play basketball with his High School team. He did nothing wrong. He was just black. We must focus on the real issues. The GJ decision last night did not represent justice. It is just a continuance of America’s broken, biased and racist justice system.

      The other issues including the rioting must be dealt with and discussed, but separately.

    • I absolutely agree that the policeman has a right to live. As a social worker, how can you infer that a teenager doesn’t have a right to live because he robbed a store? The death of any person is tragic, and as social workers it is our duty to stand up for social justice; it is very concerning that you think the main issue in this case is a teenager robbing a store.

    • Thanks for having the courage to speak up. Many of us agree.

    • Hello Dave. Although you were right to address the issue that African-Americans need to be accountable for their children’s behavior, many of the same arguments you make have been articulated by social conservatives throughout American history. Many social conservatives believe that racial minorities commit crimes because of their own moral shortcomings, discounting structural issues such as race and class. Also, many police officers who patrol communities of color do not reside in those communities, and as a result, have negative beliefs and viewpoints of those communities’ racial minorities. Consequently, when police officers interact with racial minorities in these communities, they allow their negative perceptions of racial minorities to influence how they enforce the law, which usually results in high arrest rates in communities of color.

  12. Some of these comments despair me of my profession. If you ignore institutional racism and deny that racial profiling is endemic in the US, you’ve moved away from core social work values. I don’t have faith in this decision because of historical precedents (including Trayvon Martin) that speak otherwise.

    • I agree Terry. I couldn’t have said it better

    • I completely agree and can’t believe that some of these people are social workers. It’s very sad.

    • Thank you for saying this, and so eloquently. My thoughts exactly. I hope others will speak out.

    • Yes Terry, I agree.

    • Terry,
      I totally agree with you here.

    • Thank you. I was thinking this exact thing.

    • Terry,

      Are you saying you don’t have faith in the Grand Jury’s decision to not indicte the officer who shot Mr. Brown? The Grand Jury heard testimony from 70 different witnesses. They weighed all the facts presented in this case. Their decision was there was not enough evidence to bring charges against that officer.

      I appaud NASW’s reported commitment to help reform community policing with less militarization of law enforcement. I hope “racial profiling” is done in conjuction with evidence to support this initiative. I hope that Professional Social Workers will engage in quantitative research to determine efficacy of initiatives to alleviate and prevent poverty, before we cry for more money to continually fund the current sinkholes in place.

      Yes, fighting discrimination of all types is in the Core Values of NASW and the NASW Code of Ethics. That’s one reason I remain a member of this association.

      • The prosecutor had no interest in pursuing an indictment, probably due to his own biases. There is so much about this incident that illustrates the insidiousness and real harm of racism, as well as the failures of our criminal justice system. I am shocked that the majority of the comments here (presumably by social workers) seem to condemn this mild statement. I expect more from members of our profession.

    • Thank you, Terry. Though I agree in part with some of the comments here that may be unpopular views, it is a disgrace to the profession to see the lack of awareness of how racism and classism continue to oppress so many people.

  13. I can’t believe you assume this officer used his position aggressively when clearly the grand jury felt he did what he had to do to protect himself ! Officers DIE all the time because they are afraid to act or act too slowly. We should not challenge them…there problem solved ! Obey the law oops problem solved again! Stop doing drugs wow see how easy tha at is?

  14. an armed man waltzes into a movie theatre shoots and kills innocent people, an armed intruder shoots up an elementary school killing teachers and children and not one shot fired from law enforcement – an unarmed man of color gets shot multiple times and not one of you Social Workers can muster the decency to acknowledge or admit something is wrong? your silence in this regard is resounding – the disproportionate punitive approach towards persons of color is an outrage and dispicable – yeah social workers

  15. @Kelly, thank you for your opinion. I definitely understand your view from your role as a forensic social worker; however, the facts are (and I paraphrase) an adolescent stole tobacco products from a store, the police was notified, a death occurred. Please let any one who has not committed this sin cast the first stone…….exactly. I’m not condoning theft nor am I saying that people should ignore police orders, but you don’t need any special training or higher education to know that this matter could have been resolved differently in which no death occurred.

  16. Disgusted with the court’s decision. Disappointed but not surprised about the NASW’s moderate stance. Shocked at my fellow social workers’ blatant disregard for the social determinants and institutional racism that determined the outcome of this case. Wishing for nonviolence.

  17. Sheena Bowen, MSW, LSW

    The wording of this statement implies that the officer was guilty and that excessive force was, in fact, used – despite the jury’s decision based on a lack of evidence to support that claim. While I agree that excessive force, profiling, training to recognize mental illness, etc are all worthy areas of advocacy, this case at this time is NOT an appropriate springboard for a call to action. The NASW is obviously caught up in the media hype like many other organizations and activist groups. We, as social workers, should be a voice for peace and justice based on FACTS, not sensationalism. Bad call, NASW.

  18. As a social worker and person of color, I am terrified of what I am reading in these comments. Are these the things you tell your clients? Your students? The people you love and care about?

  19. One of the cornerstones of our professional organization is that we do not work under assumptions but on evidence based practice. Making a statement that assumes the state of mind and motives of a person whom has not even made a pubic statement, and in that statement making a veiled judgement of guilt is not expressing our professionalism. Statements like this make other advocacy efforts suspect. This is more a political statement. Institutional racism, racial bias, and the like are things that need correcting but assuming that these things are linked to this matter is irresponsible and does not reflect a statement that is evidence based.

  20. My God–it is unbelievable to read some of the comments here–especially disappointing to see many are females.
    I pray none of you are social workers because our clients should beware of what their therapist are really thinking about them. It’s an innocent life, folks. I tell you what pretend he was white and see if that will give you a different perspective. And to the person referencing males robbing stores—I have an African American son, he has excelled in academics all his life and is graduating next year with a mid 3 average. Oh I forgot in America–an niggah is a niggah is a niggah. I will educate my son that he should be careful on the streets of America–it’s not the criminals I worry about it is people like you on this forum.

  21. Andrew – since when is the death penalty an appropriate response to stealing? Oh, right, he was a person of color so didn’t matter. Truly disgusting, sir.

  22. This is a young mans life and we absolutely should be advocating on behalf of vulnerable populations. As a social worker but most importantly mother of a young black male, I stand behind this statement and would do so regardless of the race of this child. It’s sad to see social workers judging his behavior which precluded his death. The bottom line is he did not have a weapon, his hands were up and he did not deserve to die. Let’s not pretend like racism is a thing of the past. I just question if many of you would feel the same way if this wa your child.

  23. I am a social work educator. Thank you for this timely measured response. I am sharing it with my MSW students tomorrow.

  24. Another reason to maintain my non participation in the NASW. Why do you assume you know the facts in this incident? When did the board of the NASW join the grand jury in Fergeson? Hope you didnt hurt yourselves jumping on the bandwagon.SMH.

  25. I am very disappointed. Not by this statement but by many of the comments left here by my colleagues. To me this NASW statement calls for our profession to be active in police reform and points out groups that are often marginalized.
    I am dumbfounded by comments such as if you can’t follow simple instructions “I’m sorry but that’s what happens.” Wow!
    There is a greater issue here than whether or not “excessive force” is added in the NASW statement (which to me appears it was excessive). We as a profession know that racism, marginalization, and oppression exist. What do we do about it in our daily lives? What do we do about it with the people we serve? What do we think about it, and what do we feel about it? Do we justify it, excuse it, or face it, and deal with it by first feeling uncomfortable?
    I believe my profession would call for dealing with it.To me in the end, as true to SW, this statement calls for action regarding reform.

  26. The ignorance perpetuated on this post doesn’t surprise me because ignorance come in all forms, when as social workers. Stealing swisher cigarello’s don’t justify a murder. Darren Wilson was a coward as cowards shouldn’t be police officers. They are afraid of their shadow so they shoot to kill. As a social worker we are agents of change but after reading some of these comments I realize some of you probably wear white hoods and ride with confederate flags. Your ignorance sickens me and I wish you would change professions.

  27. I repudiate this NASW statement as a LCSW and current NASW member. This statement was obviously crafted prior to the Ferguson grand jury announcement. Also this statement is decidedly a leftist proclamation heavily biased and NOT grounded on FACTUAL information, in this particular case and possibly those across the country. Additionally, does NASW not care about personal responsibility and self determination which includes consequences that come from choices? I believe the answer to be NO. Will NASW ever break away from being a pawn of leftist propaganda? From what I have seen during my years of association with NASW, the answer is again, NO. How in the world, how is it even possible, for NASW to be really effective in actually supporting the PROFESSION of social work with such an ideology? Are we not supposed to be PROFESSIONALS who base our behavior on scientific evidence rather than being a gang of do-gooders who resent “the man”? Problems of police misbehavior cannot be helped with such an incendiary blanket statement. Those must be worked out in each community by well meaning people who do not have preconceived agendas, hidden or public.

  28. Maybe instead of blaming, the culture should be looking inward and building.

  29. This NASW statement baffles me. Right from the start, the NASW statement assumes the officer acted unlawfully, even encouraging the United States Justice Department to investigate the officer for possible civil rights violations. How presumptuous and unwise! There are a lot of people who will look unfavorably on this statement, including me. The statement should never have been released! How could they let this one slip through! The NASW has damaged their reputation on this one.

  30. Thank-you for this statement NASW. I am in agreement with this 100%.

    I do not understand the social workers here complaining about this statement. Whether you are in agreement with the Grand Jury’s decision or not– how can it be a bad thing to support reforms that could prevent unnecessary police shootings from occurring?

    Whether you agree or disagree about the justice or injustice of THIS shooting, why would you not support the prevention of future unnecessary shootings?

    I’m sorry but what kind of social worker has a problem with preventing future unnecessary shootings? What kind of social worker has a problem with improving:
    National standards on the use of lethal police force.
    National standards on how police handle persons living with mental illnesses or disabilities.
    Training to help end police bias and racial profiling when dealing with people of color.
    Making body cameras standard police equipment.

    All of these reforms would make police AND community members safer (white and black and all the other colors too).
    Seriously, if you oppose these reforms (no matter what your opinion on the Ferguson Grand Jury Decision), then I question your dedication to social justice and your choice to be a social worker.

  31. Some of these comments truly go against the values that we all as Social Workers agreed to by going into this field. It is truly heartbreaking to read the words of other social workers accusing people of playing the victim card. There is absolutely a problem with racial profiling in this country, to limit it to our police force is wrong, but that is a very important group to start with.

  32. I love the fact that NASW issued a statement. These are all things that are needed and ultimately what people should focus on. I do hate that yet another young man had to die, but as people and Social workers  (notice I didn’t say black people) we collectively (Asian, black, latino,white, purple, yellow. .etc) need to stop relating everything to race. My deepest sympathy goes to Mikes family and they should receive all rights that are due to them. I don’t know what position that Mike was in just like you don’t, we also don’t know what position the officer was in. Regardless our attention is directed to something that can’t be changed by a simple Facebook post. Educate yourselfs so that  you can educate someone else. We need to start with Prayer first ( which changes things a Facebook post has never changed anything),Research, Policy Introduction, Policy amendments,  Advocacy…etc. Mike is in God’s care, and yet many people are judging the man (notice I didn’t say officer) who shot him. Do something for Mike and pray for his family and the man who killed him.  Stop bashing the police they are all different and have different ways of doing their job. Some police do forget why they are in the position they are in , but others don’t and are very passionate about their jobs. All we know is what the media tells us , and how many times have they been wrong. We should be praying for not only our children but everyone’s children regardless of race. Children are encountered with problems daily in their homes and in school. Children are killing themselves as well as each other, some are  abused, hungry, scared,  abandoned, etc. Yet ALL our attention is focused on something we dont understand. Children learn what they are taught and they later grow up to do the things that you teach them. Stop teaching them prejudice and teach them to love.

  33. This situation can be assessed and studied through multiple systems and variables: individual, family, community, state, nation. As social workers we should know this and not just focus on one system as the problem and solution.

  34. Wow. Reading most of these comments is sickening. You cannot all be social workers because the racism is appalling that is on display here. A young man is dead. His family is grieving and all they are asking for is the law to look into the case, not even to say “guilty” but to say that his death warrants an investigation. How can you, as social workers, not proudly support social justice but supporting an indictment.

  35. As a social worker of color, I would be proud to support reform towards racial profiling and excessive force by law enforcement. These issues were prevalent before the Michael Brown shooting incident, and are clearly not going away. We need to raise public awareness because our children, spouses, nephews….they matter to us, even when they’re not in the prettiest package. If this case was an isolated issue, there would be no question as to his guilt or innocent. This verdict has become all too typical for cases like this, no matter if the deceased had no criminal record.

    I’m fine with differences of opinions on this and other similar matters. But to be clear, the greater issue can no longer be swept under the rug. People of color, from all walks of life, nationwide don’t trust law enforcement, and historically, never have. Many of us don’t trust the system designed to protect us. More than half of us are convinced that had Michael Brown been an Ivy League student, with no criminal history, and no alleged scuffle through a window, the verdict would have been the same. As social workers, we’re remiss in our duties if we don’t take a stand for justice. Justice is punishments fitting crimes and due process. Not shot six times and left in the streets for four hours pending an “investigation”. God bless America.

  36. What about teaching people to respect & follow the law. That just because your poor doesn’t mean you get to rob or attack a person. That if you feel you’ve been wrong you don’t get to loot or burn up things?

  37. Thank you NASW for this position statement, it reflects the core values of our profession.

  38. As a social worker, we must professionally look upon an issue without prejudice. In this case, the court has decided based on expert opinions, evidence, and testimonies. It is now our job to work directly with the family for healing in this tragedy. Provide trauma based therapy to the police officer and his family. We must also work diligently to facilitate discussions about race, poverty, and profiling in Ferguson specifically. On the macro level, such as NASW statement has illustrated, social workers must begin discussions about the frequency of police shootings and what gap needs to be improved. This is a difficult case and I hope that as professionals, we put aside our personal opinions and look to how our code of ethics should drive our future action.

  39. Thank you, NASW, for this statement. I absolutely agree with the orientation of this association to work towards ending police brutality and reminding us of our obligation as social workers to end institutional racism.

  40. Thank you for a thoughtful reaction to the sad news out of Ferguson. It’s easy to lose hope that racial relations will ever improve in our country, but your specific suggestions for reform give me hope.

  41. “Training to help end police bias & racial profiling when dealing with people of color”. So people of color are the only ones being profiled? That’s ridiculous. Apparently it’s not important that cops are victims of these BS accusations- the people are always innocent. What a joke.

  42. I’m embarrassed to be a social worker because whether or not i want it, i am also represented by you even though I’ve never joined. . At least I have that to separate me from this arrogant and condescending statement.

  43. Dear NASW, I wonder if you are aware that your official statement asks nothing of the membership., and does nothing to educate the public of the many ways that our profession can engage in reform. Social workers are agents of change, yet the position is “to hope…for increased attention on issues.” This sets the bar low since the attention is already happening, albeit not in the most effective of ways. The wording regarding “how to handle” people with mental illness and “dealing with people of color” should be changed so as not to project the notion that any person should be “handled or dealt with” by police officers. An Alternative wording suggestion is “when responding to or addressing the needs of” and both should be considered with every individual. Too often our profession engages in finger pointing in the name of social justice but comes up empty in contributing to meaningful solutions. Social workers are a profession of skilled problem solvers employed in a range of organizations. Now might be a time for all of us to brush up on cultural humility, nonviolent communication, trauma theory, compassion, and let’s always remember person-in-environment, strengths perspective and self-determination.

  44. Are people forgettng that all this started because this boy robbed a store for cigarettes??!! Really!!?? I do agree that police can and do go overboard. But do not forget that people know right from wrong and they choose to do wrong and get sometimes things happen. Sorry, if the truth hurts , but this is the truth. It is what it is.

  45. Pretty presumptuous given NASW wasn’t on re jury… As a social worker I am of course concerned with social justice and racial profiling but credibility toward that movement is lost when we assume that it occurs in every incident without having all of the facts.

  46. Thank you. Social justice is needed, inequality and racism is real.

  47. I don’t understand all these objections. However you feel about this case and verdict, how can it be a bad thing to “urges reforms that would help end the excessive use of police force?” We have seen an undeniable pattern, even excluding this case.

  48. It saddens me to hear some of your overtly racist comments on this board, followed by the statement that you are a social worker. These laws (and obviously some of your perspectives) need to be reformed. When we see a system that supports and perpetrates truculent treatment for a certain group of people we need to move towards action. Why? Because that certain group of people are not autonomous in society and their outcomes effect the outcomes of our Nation.

  49. Very irresponsible press release. Not renewing my NASW membership.

  50. Let’s look at the evidence that the grand jury and witnesses testified with. And see if this was excessive force” http://www.facebook.com/ChiefDavidAOliver/posts/612960475477186?fref=nf

  51. This statement from NASW is disappointing and is not representative of all social workers. We are taught to assist clients through an unbiased, objective, and empowering framework. This statement adheres to none of those ideals. Positive social change/reform cannot happen if we are too busy blaming. Our job is not to judge and personal, subjective statements do nothing to advocate for our clients or address difficult issues within our society.

  52. This is important and very needed statement. Thank you! Perhaps this position is not widely popular (as evidenced by the comments here) but when has social work ever been easy or popular? Many of us have seen first hand how broken this justice system is and how many people are left on the outside or have become victims of injustice. We need reform now.

  53. You all make me ashamed of this profession. The fact that social workers who accept the charge to be champions of social justice are unabashed apologists for white supremacist social policy and support institutionalized racism in our justice system leaves me hurt and angry. How can those who call themselves social workers support a system that treats people of color as second class citizens and victim blame, based on social economic status and stereotypes? Wow! I am speechless.

  54. I can’t believe all the comments above. I am a social work student and if you social workers think the killing of Michael Brown was justified I am so ashamed to be entering a profession that has so many ignorant social workers. It’s no wonder my generation is thinking beyond you people. Most of you are saying the facts show this and that and the jury decided this. Well of course a group of people who don’t believe racism exist are going to rule this way!!! I can’t believe how some of you are social workers. Disgusting.

  55. While eye witness testimony surrounding Michael Brown’s death are contradictory, no social worker can truthfully deny the reality that people of color have faced a long history of racial profiling and excessive use of force at the hands of police. Coast to coast, this is an ongoing issue which has plagued our communities for centuries.

    It is our responsibility as social workers to provide for the well-being of all members of society. Clearly, we can not meet this goal while allowing many members of our communities to face the daily reality of racial discrimination at the hands of those who are supposed to be their protectors.

    I applaud NASW for releasing this statement which affirms the need for reforms.

  56. I am absolutely embarrassed, as a fellow social worker, at some of the comments on here. We don’t need to all agree on what happened, but to use collective pronouns so flagrantly, spout utterly ignorant opinions, and to completely disregard that no matter what happened, a man – SOMEONE’S CHILD – was killed, is completely disheartening. We are a profession based on dismantling oppressive systems, promoting justice, and helping to remove barriers to support an environment where all can be our best self.

    Also, NASW put out a report in 2011, noting that 86% of social workers are white. To not reflect on the privilege that comes to 86% of the profession is a grave danger, in this context, but also in our daily interactions with clients. Eighty-six percent of social workers may have opinions on the decision in Ferguson, but do NOT have to ever think about it again, if they so choose. That is privilege. Please, please, please reflect on others’ experiences and how our profession can either promote or perpetuate hate and injustice, because those are the only 2 options.

  57. When I first read this, I thought it was a missed opportunity to come out strongly against the violence and looting that is going on. Of course, social workers are always going to stand against any kind of injustice or bias that exists in any system, but I felt this statement validated those accusations by the people of Ferguson. That seems ironic as a response to a statement that a Grand Jury determined that there was no evidence implicating the officer on murder or manslaughter charges. Now that I have listened to Officer’s Wilson’s account, it became clear that this is not about a innocent little “black boy” being gunned down by police without cause. It is terribly unfortunate that a life was lost in this altercation, but I believe Officer Wilson when he said he felt his life was in danger. I think the real shame in this is the people think they have to be violent and destructive in order to express dissatisfaction and be heard. Maybe this isn’t very “social worky” of me, but this is how I feel.

  58. SUGGEST REREADING NASW statement. The first line clearly indicates support for change to end excessive force and violence.

  59. Dr. Marlene A. Saunders

    I hope NASW takes steps to be involved in discussions President Obama has recommended with and among stakeholders who want to achieve change as it pertains to police action against citizens, especially males of color. Social workers have a unique knowledge base and board professional experiences that will can illuminate thorough discussions pertaining to the historical roots of racial bias in law enforcement, human growth and development that helps to explain some of young Michael’s behavior, and the concepts, strategies and values that undergird a change process that genuinely aims to bring diverse people together to achieve ways to live together and problem solve in the face of differences.

  60. As a social worker, I am proud of the professional call to action made by NASW. I am also completely discouraged and ashamed of the reasons for dissent.

  61. Social Workers have you read your code of ethics?

    I personally know OUR NASW lobbyist has been up to date on the legislation and legal proceedings related to this case.

    What was wrong with this statement that NASW has made? I am afraid that many of you are misguided. This is much bigger than many of you realize. Racial discrimination and inequality remain ongoing and pervasive problems all across the country. This is not an isolated issue, and racial profiling and the militarization of police has been an issue all over the country for a while. This is includes humiliating and often frightening detentions, interrogations, and searches without evidence of criminal activity and based on perceived race, ethnicity, national origin or religion.

    Why do community police departments need helicopters and tanks, and other military style equipment? our local police are using military weapons and tactics for everyday policing…”Military weaponry, equipment, and vehicles obtained from or funded by federal agencies such as the Departments of Defense and/or Homeland Security”…, this is a threat to EVERYONE.

    War Comes Home: The Excessive Militarization of American Policing

    “All across the country, heavily armed SWAT teams are raiding people’s homes in the middle of the night, often just to search for drugs. It should enrage us that people have needlessly died during these raids, that pets have been shot, and that homes have been ravaged. Our neighborhoods are not warzones, and police officers should not be treating us like wartime enemies……

    https://www.aclu.org/war-comes-home-excessive-militarization-american-policing

    From the American Civil Liberties Union …this is a civil rights, racial justice issue

    The grand jury’s decision does not negate the fact that Michael Brown’s tragic death is part of an alarming national trend of officers using excessive force against people of color, often during routine encounters. Yet in most cases, the officers and police departments are not held accountable. While many officers carry out their jobs with respect for the communities they serve, we must confront the profound disconnect and disrespect that many communities of color experience with their local law enforcement.
    The ACLU will continue to fight for racial justice. We must end the prevailing policing paradigm where police departments are more like occupying forces, imposing their will to control communities. This ‘us vs. them’ policing antagonizes communities by casting a blanket of suspicion over entire neighborhoods, often under the guise of preventing crime

    https://www.aclu.org/aclu-response-ferguson

  62. As I read through these comments I could not help to shake my head at them. The bottom line is that this officer did not shoot this young man once, but several times… an act of over kill, if you will. We will ever know all the facts, but the young man died unjustly. As social workers we are to sand up and fight for injustices… surely a reform is in order. People of color have been targeted for a number of years. It’s no secret…. in fact this is the reason why so many people of color are involved in criminal behavior…. they are the ones being sought after to prosecute. It’s a harsh reality that many don’t want to face. I did not expect to read the above comments when I decided to take a look at this article. It really makes me wonder… where is this change going to begin if even social workers are taking part in being so negative and closed minded? A change is desperately needed!

  63. Maybe these folks need to quit making themselves targets for any kind of profiling. This officers actions were justifiable. If this guy was white, this would have never made it past local news.

  64. I am relieved that NASW took the right situation. As social workers we are called to heal and to impact change. It is common knowledge that the police have been using excessive force when carrying out their duties especially when dealing with minorities. As a Criminal justice scholar I have engaged in research that dealt with police brutality. Though I appreciate the work police is doing, I can’t turn a blind eye to the injuctices minorities have faced over the years. Though I support protests, I do not support the looting and burning of properties. When excercising our rights we should imitate civil rights leaders like Martin Luther king jr and others who led peaceful protests. Violence is not an effective way of voicing your concerns.

  65. The position taken reflects a disturbing pattern of deaths and lives being impacted by the way police enforce the law.The data is clear..To somehow only see the wisdom of this statement being limited to Michael Brown is missing the point..We need to support this statement as a field of social work.

  66. Reading the comments from Social Workers who seem to represent a wide range of views on the issue of the case in particular and more generally; I feel that the issue is more complex then the limits of this case allow. As a Graduate student in my last semester, and a veteran (military Police) I can empathize with the difficult job law enforcement has, as well as the frustration and anger that the marginalized population of St. Louis (among others) feel.

    I read the NASW’s comments not as being limited to the case, but as a vehicle to pull the conversation to broader strokes about institutional discrimination and oppression in all its forms, and the challenges both sides face. As social workers, we have all been exposed to varying degrees of data around the continued profiling and lopsided rates of incarceration among minority members of our communities, as well as the continued budget cuts and increasing confusion of rules in law enforcement.

    Taken as a whole, I view the comments here not as an indictment or failure on anyone’s part, but on the complex nature of the incident. Law enforcement officers are placed on an incredibly stressful set of rules regarding engagement, quotas, and scrutiny. Minority groups have lost faith in a system that has yet to fully accept and grasp the stressful set of socio-economic pressures and challenges that face them everyday. Both sides face tough challenges, and I saw this statement as a call for us to continue researching the problem and coming together as a profession to begin dialog with all sides on solutions that can change what’s not working.

    I value the comments of everyone here, and the passion and energy all of you have for the problems you have identified in this case and the broader problems our institutions of law enforcement and community leaders face. Let’s continue the dialog, find ideas that can serve as common ground, and help to be a positive force of solutions. It is who we are, and what we do ~ let’s get to work.

  67. this statement does not address the facts that were presented during this process. Police must protect themselves. The young man defied authority, committed theft, used his presence to intimidate others and the police and then expected to be treated kindly. Police are trained to protect themselves and others when provoked. yes, reform in using force is always worth exploring and implementing but this is not a profiling case. It has to do with how young people do not respect authority. I am saddened by this NASW release.

  68. I am shocked and disappointed with this announcement by NASW. You don’t speak for us.

  69. Based on the responses to the statements from members, there are a range of views around the events surround the death of Michael Brown– social workers are not of like mind, nor should we be, on the controversial issues that we face in carrying out the our professsional duties. It does seem to me, however, that we should be of like mind on those issues that are anchored in the bedrock values and principles on which our profession is based. NASW has taken a leadership role in the “anti-racism” — obviously that work is far from done.
    Alma

  70. Hard to believe that many of the comments above are coming from social workers. I certainly dont see many of the comments adhering to the values of social justice, individuals dignity and worth or cultural compentency.
    leftists politics
    mob behavior
    bandwagon of victimology
    glorified politicians
    majority of crimes were committed by minorities
    mob sentiments
    can’t follow simple police directives, then I’m sorry but that’s what happens
    Where are his parents when he was committing a crime.
    It’s time for African Americans to police there own and parent their children

    • You should include “these folks” in your list. Apparently “John” (a few comments up), needs to go back to school and re-take his Cultural Competency class…”

      “November 26, 2014 at 5:00 am
      Maybe these folks need to quit making themselves targets for any kind of profiling. This officers actions were justifiable. If this guy was white, this would have never made it past local news.”

      …and unfortunately, he seems not to be the only one!

  71. wow! Had no idea there were so many racists in this professional community.
    There is nothing in this statement that directly addresses the facts of the case, but rather addresses the greater issues highlighted by the case, which regardless of what happened in the Brown/Wilson incident, remain indisputably relevant. The systemic problems with the police are well-documented and ongoing and it is perfectly reasonable to take the opportunity to address them. what is really happening with the vitriol in this statement is that people who don’t have to suffer the injustices of racialized violence want to see the issue go away because it brings attention to their own privilege, and many cases, racism. i hope that this is indicative of a relatively vocal minority amongst this professional body.

  72. This is why many children in the foster care system are often so damaged because of social workers who are racist and prejudice using their profession as a mask. How could you possibly help someone that you don’t value? What good social worker doesn’t know the crime statistics…68% of crimes are committed by whites 14% by blacks, but there are more blacks in jail for their crimes than whites. Stealing is NOT a warrant for death. HE DID NOT DESERVE TO DIE BECAUSE HE STOLE CIGARS! Do some research into how this investigation was mishandled by police. How his body laid in the street for hours, uncovered. How they didn’t collect his firearm or dust it for fingerprints, how his accounts contradicted themselves. How no photos were taken because the camera batteries were “dead”. How he was allowed to wash blood from his body which was evidence, how they accompanied him to the hospital before and interview was done. How he called the other testifying officer to go over his statement. But most of you will not bother to investigate even though your profession dictates objective observation you have none… You actually believe the sound bites and digital vomit because it’s really how you feel about the minorities you serve. You hate them. But hey its a job that pays the bills. I know all of you are not that ignorant, I have family who are awesome in this field. But I am horrified at some of these ignorant, callous, thoughtless comments… Until it happens to you, you will NEVER understand. But you should because your field requires it! Please do your clients a favor and change careers because you are doing more harm to them than good if you feel you are superior and lack compassion.

  73. Just a thought but, about the racial profiling issue that this statement refers, I could not agree more (NOT) that we profile for purposes other than to establish a safe and secure city, neighborhood, state. Do you really think profiling is to only pursue a race or culture of people? Perhaps, if the NASW would post that we as social workers we are not doing enough to educate those that break our laws, violate the rights of others, etc, then maybe the police would not profile against the behavior that those being profiled would like to stop. Funny but I don’t hear those that have the police respond to their physical security needs, stopping drugs on the corner, or other illicit activities saying “thanks but next time don’t arrest the man on the corner selling drugs, or the hooker walking the street, or any other crime that is correlated to the color, dress, faith, etc..of those committing the crime.” Instead, we hear the public say that without the police presence there is anarchy in the poorest of our neighborhoods. Instead of saying what the police should do or not do, perhaps many of you should become police officers and live the day to day life of trying to stop crime and trying to use every tool offered to you. Hmmm, as a social worker how about someone day “Hey, you can do your job but you can’t use CBT, PST, or MI because it offends someone.” We would scoff at at the thought of that. For any police officer that reads this, do what you must to keep our streets safe and I will do what I can to change behavior of those breaking our laws. Maybe if more social workers complaining would hit the streets to change behavior they might see the undaunting task that our public servants, police, firemen, and city workers must contend with. Oh, one last thought….you don’t need to get in the habit of stopping cars if you never find anything illicit going on. There are two sides to every story…..stop crime and profiling will stop along with it.

  74. Wow, the negative racist comments by many only validates we live in two separate Americas. I only can assume those who made their racist comments don’t even know how awful they were. They cannot even image how people may feel when time after time unarmed people of color are being choked or shot 10,30 50 to death. When unarmed white boys are being killed by black cops the same right as blacks are, then I will say race is not an issue.

  75. I love all the discussions on this blog! There’s great diversity of beliefs expressed here.

    Just an observation: I don’t see anyone who disagrees with NASW’s statement that has opined to discourage reforms toward demiliatrizing our law enforcement forces. Nor, do I see that anyone expressed an overt racist statement toward anyone of any particular background or denies the ongoing existence or racism in our country. However, we’re being told we:
    1. Haven’t read our Code of Ethics—I teach Ethics for NASW and serve on my chapter’s Ethics committee
    2. Are racists ourselves
    3. Don’t belong in the Social Work profession

    For those Social Workers who posted they aren’t members and/or will cancel their membership, please know that NASW needs your voices! Otherwise, we’ll need to form our own professional Social Work association…..any takers?

    • I have canceled my membership to the NASW and will no longer encourage my students to enroll. I believed NASW was neither right or left wing but rather somewhere in the middle and worked for change that will benefit people and society. The statement clearly states that NASW believes that the grand jury’s decision would be different if it was a “white” person. This blog is all about race but not one post discusses the common denominator in all of the last police arrest deaths- resisting arrest. Others want to state that it was over cigars or petty crimes. First, police officers are not judges and cant decide before arresting an individual if they feel the crime is petty and does not warrant arrest. They have rules that they must follow. Same thing is true for a bench warrant for not attending jury duty. An office only sees bench warrant and must arrest the individual. The police officer doesn’t know what crime was committed. Second, bloggers are using evidence to back their argument and claiming other evidence is not true such as his hands were up and he was shot anyway. Why would he shoot 12 times if the officer’s goal was death? One shot to the head would have sufficed? What about the blood in the car, and Brown being shot in the hand because they were fighting over the gun.
      The issue of Wilson not being cross examined is correct because there was no trial. He was questioned and his testament was reviewed by the grand jury; however, cross examination only occurs if there is a trial. It’s the media and organization, sadly to say including the NASW who are creating hostility.
      Now, if we truly want change, we need to stop being judge and jury and look at what improvement/change is needed to decrease crime, arrest and people resisting arrest.
      When I taught the younger grades, I had rules about missing homework. However, one of my well behaved students who did his homework, handed in requested items on time and had 100% attendance forgot one of his assignments at home. I knew in my heart that it was completed and it broke my heart to penalize him for missing a homework, but I had no choice; we had rules! If I broke our class rule for him then to be fair I would have to do the same for the rest of my students. The amazing point is that he was not upset and stated I know the rules. This missed homework disqualified him from our pizza party. I know this cannot be compared to a life, but the disagreements that are going on is teaching children that all police are bad and that you can fight the police depending on how petty your crime is.
      We are making excuses for actions instead of finding solutions. This case should be looked upon as how to improve our society not how a white cop used excess force and killed a kid because he was black and the grand jury choose not to indict the cop because he was white. We have to teach kids that the gangster way is not the better way such as wearing pants passed their butts. Why are their pants so low? Because in prison they take your belt. Children think prison is cool.
      We are all guilty of profiling. If you walk down a street late at night and see two people walking down the street: one nicely dressed in a suit and one in jeans hanging pass their butt, hoodie or stocking on their head who would you keep your eye on? We dress a certain way on a job interview to make a first good impression. All I am saying is that we need to educate both sides!!!
      Again, I am very surprise that NASW has not mention what actions are needed to help children obey the law. I work too hard for my money to invest in an organization that is not supporting change in all areas.
      Take care

  76. Tarrah Kirkpatrick MSW, LCSW

    To NASW and fellow social workers:

    I am so proud to be a part of this profession (+15 years) and also a member of NASW. And, to every social worker, I want to thank you for your contributions to the profession. However, I think we are letting our personal feelings and views divide us. We are professionals, but the comments being made resemble the same conversations I have seen and heard from the general public. This NASW statement is simply encouraging members to continue practicing according to the NASW Code of Ethics. NASW is not encouraging anything that contradicts the profession’s long term focus. Review the Preamble.

    Everything that we have learned and experienced applies to this situation. We cannot suddenly deny statistics and evidence-based practices. Our own personal views may differ regarding this specific case, but how can we deny that there are problems; whether it is a problem of police abusing their power, a problem within individuals, a problem within communities? The main facts here are not new to us. Systems theory and history tells us that there can be misuse of power whether it applies to parents and children, adult children and the elderly, husbands and wives, bullying in school, or law enforcement and civilians.

    If all of us professionals could just step back and look at this from the eyes of therapists, advocates, teachers, human beings, we can better determine what is going on among us as social workers. Each of the comments above indicate that we, individually as humans, are hurting. Again, review all the statements above, and identify what is really going on. We, as human beings, are hurting. We are involved in this situation from two perspectives. So, we first must reach out to each other as members of a troubled society and then as members of the profession.

    Let’s review the Code of Ethics, especially our ethical responsibility to colleagues. If all future commenters do this, then we can have better relations, and also see the irrational thoughts and dysfunctional problem solving which we all know is indicative of cognitive dissonance and/or other interpersonal issues. If we have unresolved interpersonal issues, then it will be reflected in our intra-personal relations.

    Let’s empathize with one another. Let’s embrace each other as human beings. Let’s embrace our family, our communities, and our patients/clients as human beings. Our needs are the same. Our goals are the same. It is only the bridge(s) we are building to connect the two that differs. Don’t let the bridges separate us, but let our same needs and same goals unify us. We all attempt to meet our needs and goals, but the way in which we build our bridge is dependent on what tools we have and what instructions came with the box.

    I am praying for all the hurt I see/hear in this blog. Please pray for mine.

  77. Schools of social work need to figure out ways they can steer students supportive of racist ideology out of their programs and out of this career. That social work school continue to graduate and states continue to license people comfortable expressing blatant forms of racism is unconscionable. We continue to do as much harm as good . . .

    • ALarson,
      “Schools of social work need to figure out ways they can steer students supportive of racist ideology out of their programs and out of this career. That social work school continue to graduate and states continue to license people comfortable expressing blatant forms of racism is unconscionable. We continue to do as much harm as good . . .”

      Can you identify a specific statement that is racist by any Professional Social Worker and NASW? If so, bring that member to the Ethics Committee for proceedings. I’ll gladly help you with the process, or your state NASW Chapter can help you as well.

  78. Racial profiling does exist, however, statistics indicate that black males are committing more crimes than white males. I believe that the young, black male population will have to change those statistics themselves. Unfortunately racial profiling will continue until they do. There are no gray areas when it comes to abiding by the law. That means every person, black or white, must not break the law if you do not want your gender, race, age-group, etc. to be profiled as “law-breakers.”

    The population is divided on what should have taken place with the Darren Wilson case. I was raised in a home where respect for authority was high priority. When a police officer said “get down” that means you need to get down NOW and not after you walk 25 feet down the road. If a police officer calls out for you to come over to his cruiser for a second, that means you respectively walk over to the officer and ask how you may be of assistance. But most of all it means that you most certainly under no circumstances go for the officer’s gun. That will result in your death – black or white.

    I cannot say for sure what I would have done if I had been in Darren Wilson’s shoes. Would I have shot Mr. Brown in the foot or in the head? I don’t know for sure because I’ve not been in that situation. But I can say for sure that had I been Michael Brown I would have gotten down on the ground at the exact moment I was told to do so and upped my chances of still being alive today. I may not have liked the idea of having to do what I was told but buddy you can bet I would have kissed the ground.

    I went to grade school and high school with both blacks and whites. We were all offered the same educational opportunities. We studied out of the same books, rode the same buses, and had the same teachers. Some of the whites took advantage of the opportunities and some of the blacks did as well. A lot of those people are now nurses, radiology technicians, truck drivers, business owners and a lot of those people are in prison – black and white.

    The fact remains that we ALL must obey the law and when we decide not to do so – we must face the consequences whatever they may be. Let’s get real people and stop making this case about black and white. Most cases are not in black and white – it must be deciphered. The grand jury has spoke – let’s move on.

  79. I find it interesting that this “call to arms” from NASW to revise national police standards was being made before we knew whether the officer would have been justified in his use of force and now we see that an unbiased grand jury, that was selected before this incident even occurred, has reviewed hours of witness testimony, forensic evidence and has upheld the officers actions and justified his use of force.

    There are already national standards on the use of lethal police force and there is already mandatory training on crisis intervention and mental health. More training wouldn’t hurt anything but this is not new ground. As far as racial profiling goes, research shows that the United States law enforcement system as a whole is NOT plagued with racial profiling/racism issues. I highly urge anyone on both sides of the fence to read a book entitled “Are Cops Racist” by Heather MacDonald. An example of criminal vs racial profiling is this: In the 90’s New York was experiencing an epidemic of cocaine use. The DEA conducted a conclusive study and sent a report to line level officers (street cops) so they could have intel on how to combat the drug trafficking. The DEA stated that three groups were primarily responsible for manufacturing and delivering the cocaine. The groups were the Haitians, Dominicans and black street gang members. Now these officers had intel in their hand on who the players of this drug trade are and they happen to all be black. If the officers go out and make contact with one of these subjects based on good intel that they may be manufacturing or delivering cocaine would that be racial profiling? If the officers just went out and tried to find a black person to harass, of course that would be racial profiling. But what about the officer who takes this intel, located a black subject that happens to be Haitian, Dominican or looks to belong to a criminal street gang, and then they obtain reasonable suspicion based on that fact plus other observations (maybe they see a transaction or this person is hanging out in a high traffic/drug area) would that be racial profiling? The courts say no. It was during this time that racial profiling became a concern due to the high number of police contacts with blacks who fell into those three categories. This was especially true among highways leading up the east coast. Many arrests were made and a dent was put into the drug trade.

    I have no problem with body cameras. If officers are doing their job right (and most are) then it will only uphold that and deter the bad officers. A study on corruption was done comparing our law enforcement officers to those in other countries and unsurprisingly, we have an exceptionally low corruption rate. The average was that 2% of United States law enforcement officers (that’s 2 out of every 100) would conduct ONE action that would be considered corrupt during their career (which may last 20+ years). Correct me if I’m wrong but I believe that corruption rate is lower than politicians!

    My point is, the system isn’t broken. Mike Brown wasn’t innocent. His family and other supporters fail to take responsibility for his actions which put him in that situation to begin with. Officer Wilson didn’t go out that day looking to shoot a black man. This is divisive propaganda being perpetuated by the media and “civil rights” leaders such as Sharpton, Farrakhan and Jackson. Where is the protesting over the Bosnian killed by minorities in St. Louis? Or the many other hate crimes committed by minorities?

  80. When demonstrations in the aftermath of the Grand Jury decision in Ferguson, MO turned to rioting, looting and burning, the media narrative was that this was the work of “a few bad apples.” This explanation has been widely accepted by many people because it appears to be true. What has not happened, however, is an equal application of the “bad apple” theory to the police. Rather than demonize all law enforcement officers why do we not see police brutality as the action of “a few bad apples”? It seems to me that prejudice is prejudice, no matter who is expressing it.
    Calling names and pointing fingers at an entire race or an entire profession will not solve the problem. A blanket portrayal of all law enforcement officers as brutal is not an answer, it simply perpetuates the problem and stifles any hope of communication.
    Each group must seek, find, and work to remove the bad apples. Yes, work. It is hard work, much harder than simple slogans or tired epithets. We can be better than this; the bad apples have to go.

  81. Under the guise of combatting racism, we have become cop-ists. Do we really think all (or most) cops are brutal? In NY two police officers are killed because they are police. The law enforcement community mourns, but does not riot. They continue to work even inthe midst of their grief.

    Because you do not agree with the Grand Jury decisions, don’t blame the police. Police face brutality every day bythose who resist arrest, many of whom are back on thestreets beforethe officer is medically cleared to go back to work.

  82. It appears NASW has revised its statement to focus on police reforms, in response to our blog discussions–yea! Thanks for listening to us, NASW!

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