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The Word Justice Carved into Architecture of Marble Courthouse
Press Statement April 20, 2023

NAACP Sends Letter to DOJ Demanding Investigation into Shooting of Ralph Yarl

The Word Justice Carved into Architecture of Marble Courthouse


April 20, 2023

Contact: Jonah Bryson, 

WASHINGTON – This week, NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson sent a letter to the Department of Justice requesting they open a civil rights investigation into the shooting of Ralph Yarl, and the Kansas City Police Department's subsequent handling of the attack with consideration to the fact that the shooter was a white man. Yarl, a 16-year-old Black teenager, was shot twice after accidentally ringing the doorbell to the wrong house while trying to pick his siblings up from a friend's house. He sustained critical injuries, including one shot to the head. Reports reflect that the assailant was taken into custody but released within two hours. He has since been charged with assault in the first degree and armed criminal action.

NAACP President & CEO, Derrick Johnson released the following statement: 

"It is entirely unacceptable that the officers who are meant to 'serve and protect' allowed a man to walk free hours after shooting a child in the head. The Kansas City Police Department has once again failed to fulfill their duty and protect Black Missourians. In order to ensure that justice is served, the NAACP calls on the Department of Justice to carry out a thorough investigation to determine the facts of the case, including the full impact of racial biases, both implicit and explicit." 

President Derrick Johnson's letter highlights the racial element at play in this tragedy, noting that the Kansas City Police Chief has similarly recognized "the racial components of this case." Johnson goes on to condemn the initial actions taken by local police for releasing the assailant from custody and calls on the DOJ to "conduct an investigation of its own." 

"As the nation's preeminent civil rights organization, we are committed to doing everything in our power to hold law enforcement officials accountable for their continued failures to deliver justice for Black America and for continually placing our communities at risk," said President Johnson." 



The NAACP advocates, agitates, and litigates for the civil rights due to Black America. Our legacy is built on the foundation of grassroots activism by the biggest civil rights pioneers of the 20th century and is sustained by 21st century activists. From classrooms and courtrooms to city halls and Congress, our network of members across the country works to secure the social and political power that will end race-based discrimination. That work is rooted in racial equity, civic engagement, and supportive policies and institutions for all marginalized people. We are committed to a world without racism where Black people enjoy equitable opportunities in thriving communities.

NOTE: The Legal Defense Fund – also referred to as the NAACP-LDF - was founded in 1940 as a part of the NAACP, but now operates as a completely separate entity.