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NAACP Leader Sides with Rand Paul on Police Militarization

“I think civil rights charges are in order," official says of what should face Ferguson officer.

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Nicholas Ballasy

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September 2, 2014 - 11:52 pm
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WASHINGTON – NAACP Washington Bureau Director and Senior Vice President for Advocacy Hilary Shelton said federal civil rights charges are in order for Officer Darren Wilson, who shot and killed Michael Brown last month in Ferguson, Mo.

Shelton also said he agrees with Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul’s position on the militarization of local police departments.

“I think civil rights charges are in order. I think that very well, as usual, we have to let the local governments move first. Local law enforcement is doing that now. The prosecution is gearing up,” Shelton said after a “Ferguson and Beyond” town hall meeting at Busboys and Poets last Wednesday evening.

“Information is being gathered by the Justice Department now. They are overseeing how local authorities are handling this. They will be prepared to move forward.”

Shelton stressed that pursuing civil rights charges is a tough hill to climb for Attorney General Eric Holder and the Justice Department. Holder recently visited Ferguson to meet with local officials and the Brown family.

“The same kid who got stopped on the New Jersey freeway is now the attorney general of the United States,” Holder said. “This country is capable of change. But change doesn’t happen by itself.”

During the panel discussion at the event, Nkechi Taifa, senior policy analyst at Open Society Foundations, pointed out that Democrats are not the only elected officials voicing their opinion on the situation in Ferguson.

Taifa mentioned that Paul addressed the conduct of law enforcement in the aftermath of Michael Brown’s death.

“There is a legitimate role for the police to keep the peace, but there should be a difference between a police response and a military response,” Paul wrote in a TIME op-ed. “The images and scenes we continue to see in Ferguson resemble war more than traditional police action.”

Paul said Washington has encouraged the militarization of local police departments by providing federal dollars to help them build small armies.

“The militarization of our law enforcement is due to an unprecedented expansion of government power in this realm. It is one thing for federal officials to work in conjunction with local authorities to reduce or solve crime. It is quite another for them to subsidize it,” he wrote.

PJ Media asked Shelton if he agrees with Paul’s position.

“I certainly agree with that argument. I don’t necessarily blame it on big government. It’s not the size of the government – it’s the actions of the government that makes the difference so indeed it’s about the actions of the government,” Shelton said.

“But when he talks about what’s happening with the militarization of our law enforcement entities – why in the world would we allow our government through law enforcement declare war on us? It’s our resources. We’re the taxpayers. We pay these police officers. We pay these officials that set the laws and the policies. We’re the ones under our democratic structure responsible for how it works,” he added.

Shelton recommended that Congress pass the End Racial Profiling Act, which was introduced by Maryland Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin in May 2013.

“The receipt of federal law enforcement and other funds that go to state and local governments is conditioned on their adoption of effective policies that prohibit racial profiling,” said a press release about the bill.

“The Justice Department is authorized to provide grants for the development and implementation of best policing practices, such as early warning systems, technology integration, and other management protocols that discourage profiling.”

Hollywood actor and political activist Danny Glover addressed the audience by phone.

All Comments   (12)
All Comments   (12)
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Eric Holder made up his mind long before any investigation started. How can we respect anAG who shows contempt for congress?
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
How can we respect an AG who shows contempt for everything his department is supposed to stand for - order, justice, fairness, equality under the law.
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
For Heaven's sake, when mobs are running loose in the street, you need police officers with more than normal equipment. Or do you prefer the military - like the National Guard - handle it? And if they need training, give it to them!
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
Bull O'Connor is running the Justice Department.
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yeah, we really just need to ignore all the negroes walking in the middle of the street, stealing and walking around in a stoned state. We wouldn't want a place that has some law and order.
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
Not sure I'd put it that way, but it is confusing - trying to figure out what people actually want.
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
End racial profiling? How did Asians and old women and nuns end Asian, old women and nun profiling?
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
I challenge them to define racial profiling. I challenge them to prove Officer Wilson racially-profiled Brown.

Seems to me that many accusations of racial profiling are based on minorities' superior mind-reading abilities. Or their hurt feelings.

I prefer to play it safe. Whenever I see a nun, I try to think of her as an antelope.
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
They are racially profiling Brown.
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
"I think civil rights charges are in order."

That's kind of like the Pope saying "I think going to mass is in order." I mean, what else is the leader of the NAACP going to say? What else can he say? His organization exists for one purpose - agitating for civil rights charges. Hammer, nail, etc.
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
I think civil rights charges are in order - against the NAACP.
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
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