(CNN) -- When it comes down to Officer Darren Wilson and Michael Brown, “it’s not about taking a side,” the attorney for the St. Louis Police Officers Association said Thursday.
Conversations about race and how police officers conduct themselves didn’t begin after Wilson killed the unarmed teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, said Neil Bruntrager, general counsel for the labor organization, in a brief interview with CNN.
“It’s a fallacy to assume this all just happened on August 9. There’s a lot of history here, both good and bad,” he said. “It won’t finish when the grand jury comes back. There’s a lot left to be done.”
And it isn’t about standing behind either Brown or Wilson, he said, not even when it comes to Wilson’s union.
“Their position is, ‘Look, justice is a process.’ They support the process,” Bruntrager said. “It’s not about taking a side. It’s about understanding the process, and they do. And they encourage everyone—everyone—to pay attention to that process because it is something that people can trust.”
Asked if the union knew Wilson’s side of the story—which is the subject of ongoing grand jury proceedings that have left Ferguson and the surrounding area on edge as a decision is expected any day now—Bruntrager said it did not.
“What they know, of course, is what everyone has read in the newspapers, and they’re in a position where they, like everyone else, are waiting until the grand jury makes a decision,” the attorney said.
He said he could not comment on whether he felt Wilson would be indicted.
Many observers have expressed concern that if Wilson is not indicted, chaos could ensue in Ferguson and beyond. Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has vowed to crack down on any “ugliness.” Authorities have said they’ve been in constant discussions to prepare for the response that may follow the grand jury ruling.
A community group called the Don’t Shoot Coalition have issued 19 so-called rules of engagement in hopes of deterring the heavy-handed response for which police were vehemently criticized in the weeks after Brown’s shooting.
Bruntrager praised efforts to keep police and protesters safe and said the dialogue is important.
“People have tried to understand what the rage is about. People have tried to understand what the fury is,” he said.
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