A multitude of concerned U.S. military members, both active duty and veterans, have sent an open letter to the Missouri National Guard. At last count, it had nearly 200 signatures with more being added as the word spreads around.
Mint Press News reported that in the letter, the group is asking the National Guard to stand with the Ferguson protestors and not fight against them. It wants them to join the demonstrators, standing up against what the authors are calling “countless constitutional and human rights violations.”
The letter was published on MarchForward.org and was signed by numerous wars, including several who served in Iraq. Selected highlights read as the following:
“To our brothers and sisters in the Missouri National Guard,
We are writing to you as active-duty U.S. service members and veterans, most of us having served in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
You have a choice you can make right now.
The whole world is watching the Ferguson police with disgust. They killed an unarmed, college-bound Black youth in broad daylight, and subsequently responded to peaceful, constitutionally-protected protests with extreme violence and repression.
Countless constitutional and human rights violations by these police have been documented over the course of the Ferguson protests; from attacking and threatening journalists, to using tear gas against peaceful protestors, including children…
Our true duty.
When we signed up, we swore an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States.
The police in Ferguson are violating that Constitution.
The First Amendment guarantees the right to free speech, freedom to assembly and freedom of the press…
It is undeniable that the Ferguson police has used extreme violence against peaceful protesters, suppressing the right of the people to free speech and the freedom to assemble. They have attacked crowds, with children in them, with rubber bullets, sound cannons and tear gas. People have been mass arrested for simply being at the protest…
The people have the right to protest. If we were truly honoring our oath, we would be in Ferguson to protect the protesters against the repression of their rights by the police.
We don’t just have a legal obligation, but a moral one…
Clearly, we would be within our legal rights to refuse to help the Ferguson police unconstitutionally suppress these protests. But beyond the constitutional case, we have a moral obligation to refuse to participate…
Racist police brutality is a real issue in America.
History is unfolding, with the whole world watching. You have a decision to make on which side of history to be on.
You will make history, one way or the other.
If you take part in the suppression of the protests for Michael Brown, we will be enshrined in history just as the National Guard soldiers who followed their orders to attack and repress civil rights actions, union pickets and anti-war protests. History has not looked kindly on them.
But you have the chance to make a different kind of history.
Imagine the powerful impact it would have if you abandoned your posts and marched with the protesters.
That single action could have the biggest possible effect on the crisis in Ferguson and the larger issues it represents in the entire country. It could be a major turning point in the fight against racism, inequality and police abuse.
You wouldn’t be alone. There is a whole community of service members, veterans and civilian supporters who would defend your right to do so. And now, in this critical moment, we are urging you to exercise that right…”
The authors of the letter are addressing issues that go beyond the shooting of Michael Brown by Officer Darren Wilson. They are asking that the Missouri National Guard look at everything that has transpired since the incident and even reflect upon events of the past. The plea actually goes beyond the Guard and is asking the nation to make a choice. Not everyone will agree, but it is evident that they need to take notice.