The White House Must Now Respond to This Petition About Michael Brown’s Death

An online petition tallied more than 100,000 signatures Tuesday, a benchmark that requires a response.

A man is arrested after laying in the street during a peaceful protest on West Florissant Avenue. in Ferguson, Mo. on Aug. 19.
National Journal
Marina Koren
Aug. 20, 2014, 1 a.m.

An on­line pe­ti­tion cre­ated five days ago in re­sponse to Mi­chael Brown’s death has sur­passed the num­ber of sig­na­tures re­quired for an of­fi­cial re­sponse from the White House.

A pe­ti­tion pos­ted to We the People, a sec­tion of white­house.gov, call­ing for a “Mike Brown law” ac­crued 125,870 sig­na­tures by Tues­day night. The White House typ­ic­ally writes a re­sponse for pe­ti­tions that garner more than 100,000 sig­na­tures.

Sig­nat­or­ies called for le­gis­la­tion that would re­quire law en­force­ment across the coun­try to wear a cam­era to re­cord of­ficer activ­it­ies. The pe­ti­tion states:

Due to the latest ac­counts of deadly en­coun­ters with po­lice, We the People, pe­ti­tion for the Mike Brown Law. Cre­ate a bill, sign in­to law, and set aside funds to re­quire all state, county, and loc­al po­lice, to wear a cam­era. The law shall be made in an ef­fort to not only de­tour [sic] po­lice mis­con­duct (i.e. bru­tal­ity, pro­fil­ing, ab­use of power), but to en­sure that all po­lice are fol­low­ing pro­ced­ure, and to re­move all ques­tion, from nor­mally ques­tion­able po­lice en­coun­ters. As well, as help to hold all parties with­in a po­lice in­vest­ig­a­tion, ac­count­able for their ac­tions.

Brown, 18, was shot and killed by po­lice of­ficer Dar­ren Wilson in Fer­guson, Mo., on Aug. 9. The de­tails sur­round­ing the shoot­ing are in dis­pute; po­lice say Brown as­saul­ted Wilson, while wit­ness re­ports say Brown died with his hands up in the air, shout­ing to the of­ficer that he was un­armed.

Sim­il­ar pe­ti­tions have cropped up around the In­ter­net since the shoot­ing. A Change.org cam­paign to “re­quire Fer­guson and St. Louis county and city po­lice of­ficers to wear body cam­er­as” has re­ceived 45,302 sig­na­tures since its cre­ation last week.

A re­sponse from the White House to the “Mike Brown law” pe­ti­tion does not mean any le­gis­lat­ive ac­tion will be taken. But the shoot­ing has promp­ted the Fer­guson Po­lice De­part­ment to re­view its policies. The de­part­ment said in a state­ment Tues­day that it will raise money to “se­cure dash and vest cams for our patrol cars.” The term “dash” likely refers to dash­board cam­er­as, and “vest” sug­gests that of­ficers may wear cam­er­as on their per­son.

It’s not clear how many po­lice de­part­ments across the coun­try re­quire their of­ficers to use cam­er­as while on patrol, The Wall Street Journ­al‘s Chris­toph­er Mims re­ports. But in Ri­alto, Cal­if., the use of body-moun­ted cam­er­as the size of pagers re­duced the use of force by of­ficers by 60 per­cent in its first year. Cit­izen com­plaints against law en­force­ment dropped 80 per­cent.

The White House sel­dom re­sponds to pe­ti­tions that sur­pass 100,000 im­me­di­ately. Be­fore it gets to the Brown pe­ti­tion, the White House must first con­sider ap­peals to de­clare the Muslim Broth­er­hood a ter­ror­ist or­gan­iz­a­tion, par­don Ed­ward Snowden, and sanc­tion China for re­cent clashes with Vi­et­nam over a sunken ship in dis­puted wa­ters.

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