I know it seems like this place is rapidly turning into the 24-hour Ferguson protest blog, but frankly it's news and I feel like running stories on it, and things need to be said. Attorney General Eric Holder had some things to say today too in an op-ed in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch entitled "A message to the people of Ferguson".
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.
I'm glad to see Eric Holder openly say that he's backing the people of Ferguson here, and that regardless of the outcome of the shooting of Michael Brown, the Ferguson PD and St. Louis County PD have a lot of work to do to earn back the trust of the people.
For some that will never happen. There just isn't anything that can make this 100% right again. But they have to go ahead and do it regardless because it's the right thing to do.
And yes, I wouldn't mind seeing both departments taken over by the feds. They've lost the trust of whom they serve, and that's enough to pull the plug and reform them wholesale.