Attorney General Eric Holder said the federal investigations into the shooting of Michael Brown and the Ferguson police will be conducted “rigorously and in a timely manner so we can move forward as expeditiously as we can to restore trust, to rebuild understanding and to foster cooperation between law enforcement and community members.”
Holder said Tuesday that he’s been continuously briefed on “events in and around Ferguson.”
“I was disappointed that some members of the community resorted to violence rather than respecting what I thought were the really heartfelt words of Michael Brown Sr. and the wishes he expressed about how he wanted his son’s memory to be honored with nonviolence,” he said. “It is clear that acts of violence threaten to drown out those that have legitimate voices, legitimate demonstrators and those acts of violence cannot and will not be condoned.”
Michael Brown Sr.’s church was burned Monday night. The pastor, Carlton Lee, suspects white supremacists targeted the church: it was three miles away from the main protests, no surrounding buildings were harmed, and he’d received dozens of death threats after speaking out for the Brown family.
Holder said he was “very encouraged that some of the more peaceful demonstrations … have been in keeping with Mr. Brown’s request.”
“I would remind demonstrators of our history that those, the way in which we have made progress in this country is when we have seen peaceful, nonviolent demonstrations that has led to the change that has been the most long lasting and the most pervasive,” he said, adding that he’d ordered Department of Justice officials “to continue to make contact with leaders of the peaceful protesters and to seek their assistance in isolating those individuals who are inclined towards violence.”
“We’ve had a good ongoing dialogue with peaceful demonstrators in Ferguson.… Those people who took it upon themselves to try to stop those kinds of things (looting and rioting) are in fact heroes in my mind.”
Holder said Brown’s death “revealed a deep distrust between some in the Ferguson community and its police force.”
“It also developed a need to develop and widely disseminate law enforcement best practices for responding to public demonstrations. The Department of Justice has begun this work and will continue to work with communities around the country in this regard. The reality is that what we see in Ferguson is not restricted to Ferguson. There are other communities around this country that have these same issues that have to be dealt with and we at the Justice Department are determined to do all that we can to bridge those divides,” he said.
He briefed President Obama in the Oval Office on Tuesday and said they “talked about programmatic issues that we want to announce relatively soon and also about the need to bring our people together.”
“This is a difficult time for people in Ferguson. It’s a difficult time for people in our country. It’s an opportunity for us to find those things that bind us as a nation, to be honest with one another about those things that continue to divide us and come up with ways in which we make this union even more perfect,” Holder said. “So that’s what I talked about with the president.”