NAACP president "concerned" about Ferguson grand jury decision

NAACP President Cornell William Brooks said he was "concerned" about the forthcoming grand jury decision in the Michael Brown shooting case because the prosecutor failed to act upon previous complaints about the Ferguson, Missouri police department and didn't give the jurors sufficient instructions.

"We have a prosecutor who had five complaints filed with the Justice Department concerning his police department by the NAACP. He failed to take action. This was before Mike Brown. He then conducts a grand jury, a process where he essentially dumps evidence into the laps of the grand jury with little direction. So are we concerned? Yes," Brooks said in an interview on CBS' "Face the Nation" Sunday.

"But we're more concerned about the failure of the grand jury to be given the kind of direction, as it is typically the case, and we're concerned about a grieving family and an outraged community," the NAACP president added. " We want justice for them first and foremost."

Multiple sources told CBS News Saturday that an announcement from the grand jury is not expected before Monday. The 12-person panel is weighing whether to indict Darren Wilson, who is white, with fatally shooting Brown, a black teenager who was unarmed, on Aug. 9.

Brooks also had critical words for Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, saying it was "presumptuous" for Nixon to declare a state of emergency in Ferguson before the grand jury announced its decision.

"The governor's responded to this as though it were a security crisis, as opposed to a social justice crisis, and so, I believe that his actions with respect to the guard in the state of emergency are presumptuous as to the intent of the demonstrators who are really young practitioners of democracy, and presumptuous with respect to what may happen," Brooks said.

"We can go into this expecting non-violent civil disobedience. I believe that the government should respond systemically, in terms of what he's going to do, what he's going to call upon the state to do," he said.

But Brooks still expressed confidence that most of the response to the grand jury decision will be non-violent, and said the NAACP has urged members of the community to remain calm.

"But we need to be clear here," he added. "There's an asymmetry of responsibility. The police have the greatest responsibility to keep peace and order and to behave in a fashion that encourages non-violence, not to agitate the situation."

"Michael Brown's death is more than individual tragedy, it feels like a generational assault for many young people," Brooks continued. "And so, where we have the lowest crime rate in 20 years, we've yet have a generation of young people who perceive themselves in the midst of a pandemic of police misconduct in terms of racial profiling."

  • Rebecca Kaplan

    Rebecca Kaplan is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.