Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. has a message for the residents of Ferguson in the St. Louis Post Dispatch in which he describes what steps will be taken.
Since the Aug. 9 shooting death of Michael Brown, the nation and the world have witnessed the unrest that has gripped Ferguson, Mo. At the core of these demonstrations is a demand for answers about the circumstances of this young man’s death and a broader concern about the state of our criminal justice system.
At a time when so much may seem uncertain, the people of Ferguson can have confidence that the Justice Department intends to learn — in a fair and thorough manner — exactly what happened.
Today, I will be in Ferguson to be briefed on the federal civil rights investigation that I have closely monitored since I launched it more than one week ago. I will meet personally with community leaders, FBI investigators and federal prosecutors from the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office to receive detailed briefings on the status of this case.
The full resources of the Department of Justice have been committed to the investigation into Michael Brown’s death. This inquiry will take time to complete, but we have already taken significant steps. Approximately 40 FBI agents and some of the Civil Rights Division’s most experienced prosecutors have been deployed to lead this process, with the assistance of the United States Attorney in St. Louis. Hundreds of people have already been interviewed in connection with this matter. On Monday, at my direction, a team of federal medical examiners conducted an independent autopsy.
We understand the need for an independent investigation, and we hope that the independence and thoroughness of our investigation will bring some measure of calm to the tensions in Ferguson. In order to begin the healing process, however, we must first see an end to the acts of violence in the streets of Ferguson. Although these acts have been committed by a very small minority — and, in many cases, by individuals from outside Ferguson — they seriously undermine, rather than advance, the cause of justice. And they interrupt the deeper conversation that the legitimate demonstrators are trying to advance.
The Justice Department will defend the right of protesters to peacefully demonstrate and for the media to cover a story that must be told. But violence cannot be condoned. I urge the citizens of Ferguson who have been peacefully exercising their First Amendment rights to join with law enforcement in condemning the actions of looters, vandals and others seeking to inflame tensions and sow discord.
Law enforcement has a role to play in reducing tensions, as well. As the brother of a retired law enforcement officer, I know firsthand that our men and women in uniform perform their duties in the face of tremendous threats and significant personal risk. They put their lives on the line every day, and they often have to make split-second decisions.
At the same time, good law enforcement requires forging bonds of trust between the police and the public. This trust is all-important, but it is also fragile. It requires that force be used in appropriate ways. Enforcement priorities and arrest patterns must not lead to disparate treatment under the law, even if such treatment is unintended. And police forces should reflect the diversity of the communities they serve.
Over the years, we have made significant progress in ensuring that this is the case. But progress is not an endpoint; it is a measure of effort and of commitment. Constructive dialogue should continue — but it must also be converted into concrete action. And it is painfully clear, in cities and circumstances across our great nation, that more progress, more dialogue, and more action is needed.
This is my pledge to the people of Ferguson: Our investigation into this matter will be full, it will be fair, and it will be independent. And beyond the investigation itself, we will work with the police, civil rights leaders, and members of the public to ensure that this tragedy can give rise to new understanding — and robust action — aimed at bridging persistent gaps between law enforcement officials and the communities we serve. Long after the events of Aug. 9 have receded from the headlines, the Justice Department will continue to stand with this community.
As we move forward together, I ask for the public’s cooperation and patience. And I urge anyone with information related to the shooting to contact the FBI by dialing 800-CALL-FBI, option 4.
Remembering Mike Brown On His 19th Birthday (May 20, 1996- August 9, 2014)
1. Mike Brown, just a normal 18-year-old on his way to collegeSource:Facebook 1 of 30
2. Mike Brown playing around with a family memberSource:Facebook 2 of 30
3. Mike Brown's mother Lesley McFadden and father, Michael Brown, Sr. at a press conference.Source:Associated Press 3 of 30
4. Lesley McSpadden, Mike Brown's mother and his stepfather, Louis Head, comfort each other after his death.Source:Associated Press 4 of 30
5. Residents of Ferguson, Missouri create a memorial where Mike Brown was killed.Source:Associated Press 5 of 30
6. Clergy and residents gather in Ferguson.Source:Francis family 6 of 30
7. Police in riot gear watch protesters in Ferguson.Source:Associated Press 7 of 30
8. Police and protestors come face to face in Ferguson.Source:Associated Press 8 of 30
9. Riot police on the scene in Ferguson, Missouri.Source:Associated Press 9 of 30
10. Protesters in Ferguson, Missouri.Source:Associated Press 10 of 30
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12. Peaceful protest in Ferguson, Missouri.12 of 30
13. Howard University students stand in solidarity with Ferguson, Missouri.Source:Instagram 13 of 30
14. National Moment of Silence protest around the country, this one shut down Times SquareSource:Twitter 14 of 30
15. Missouri Highway Patrol captain Ron Johnson changes the police tone in Ferguson, Missouri.Source:Associated Press 15 of 30
16. Milwaukee, Wisconsin protestors stand in solidarity with Ferguson, Missouri.Source:Facebook 16 of 30
17. Out of the mouths of babes.Source:Facebook 17 of 30
18. A candle for peace glows as part of a vigil in St. LouisSource:Twitter 18 of 30
19. Teens in Philadelphia observe the NMOS'14. It's all about LOVE.Source:Bill Chenevert 19 of 30
20. Mike Brown allegedly involved in store confrontation/robbery before his death.Source:Ferguson Police 20 of 30
21. Police stats from Ferguson, Missouri.Source:Mother Jones infographic 21 of 30
22. Protesters vandalize a police vehicle outside of the Ferguson city hall on Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo.Source:AP 22 of 30
23. Police officers confront protesters Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo.Source:AP 23 of 30
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25. Police shoot pepper spray toward protesters in front of the Ferguson Police Department on Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo.Source:AP 25 of 30
26. In this aerial photo,people look at a row of charred cars at a used car dealership, Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014, in Dellwood, Mo.Source:AP 26 of 30
27. Citizens protest the Ferguson Decision in Dallas, TX.Source:Instagram 27 of 30
28. Citizens protest the Ferguson Decision in Atlanta, Georgia.Source:Instagram 28 of 30
29. Citizens protest the Ferguson Decision in Boston, Massachusetts.Source:Instagram 29 of 30
30. Citizens protest the Ferguson Decision in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.Source:Instagram 30 of 30
(Photo Source: AP)