The ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee said the expected removal of local police from handling the unrest in Ferguson, Mo., is “an important step towards restoring peace and allowing for an independent, thorough investigation to take place.”
Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) charged that “serious and sweeping civil rights violations may have taken place” in the St. Louis suburb.
“The tragic killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown and the events that have transpired since the shooting in Ferguson are reminiscent of the violent altercations that took place during the Civil Rights Movement. Countless African Americans endured unwarranted hostility and excessive force from law enforcement while exercising their right to peaceful assembly and civil resistance,” Conyers said in a statement.
“It is a great travesty to find ourselves again witnessing the blatant violation of our right to peaceably assemble in Ferguson.”
Rep. Wm. Lacy Clay (D-Mo.) told Bloomberg that Gov. Jay Nixon (D) would announce once he arrived to the city that the St. Louis County police would be removed from the situation.
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) said it was time to “de-militarize this situation — this kind of response by the police has become the problem instead of the solution.”
“I obviously respect law enforcement’s work to provide public safety, but my constituents are allowed to have peaceful protests, and the police need to respect that right and protect that right,” McCaskill said.
Her GOP counterpart, Sen. Roy Blunt (Mo.), said in a statement that he spoke with Attorney General Eric Holder about “the continued investigation in Ferguson, and I continue to monitor what I believe is close coordination between county and federal authorities.”
“It’s important to remember that this tragedy began when a young man lost his life, and I support local and federal officials in their efforts to conduct open, transparent, and parallel investigations into what happened here,” Blunt said in reference to the police shooting of an 18-year-old last weekend. “Michael Brown’s memory, his family, and his community are not well-served by more violence.”
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) even weighed in, with a reference to the arrest of two journalists in a McDonald’s last night. “In the wake of this terrible tragedy, my thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Michael Brown,” he said. “I strongly support a full and thorough investigation of the events surrounding his death, and subsequent actions, including the detention of journalists covering this heartbreaking situation.”
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) said it’s “crucial” that the House and Senate Judiciary Committees hold hearings when Congress returns from recess “on the continued incidents of the killing of African American males by law enforcement.”
“The killing of African American young males is becoming an epidemic in America. We have seen this story before with Eric Garner, Oscar Grant and now Michael Brown and these are just some of the names who have fallen victim of excessive policing,” Jackson Lee said. “…Added to that should be continued questions on the overall killing of African American young males such as the cases of Trayvon Martin and Alfred Wright.”
“I will be reviewing the President’s initiative of My Brother’s Keeper which will lay the framework dealing with omnibus legislation I plan on introducing that will deal with the epidemic of the killing of so many African American males,” she added. “This must stop now. Mothers and fathers are crying too often.”