A California Democrat said a lesson in the wake of the Michael Brown shooting is a need to look at police acting as “jury and executioner” when confronting suspects.
Rep. Karen Bass, a House Judiciary Committee member, said in a statement after the grand jury opted to not issue an indictment this week that it “continues a trend of injustice that has rightfully created an environment of anger and concern in Ferguson, Missouri and across the United States.”
“Ferguson officials botched this case from the beginning when they left Michael Brown’s body on the street for over four hours after he was killed. They were mean-spirited when they leaked information to the media to assassinate Michael Brown’s character. The Ferguson Police Department violated the constitutional rights of the Ferguson community when they attacked and tear gassed lawful protesters,” Bass said, adding that the grand jury “attacked justice by not holding Officer Wilson accountable for his actions.”
The congresswoman added she would “continue to insist that the United States Department of Justice conduct its own investigation to determine if the Ferguson police violated Michael Brown’s civil rights.”
On CNN, Bass stressed “we have to do a short-term and a long-term strategy, and we really need to begin to come to grips with this in our country, because you can go down a long list of these cases.”
“You can rattle off these instances, and one of the most important thing that I think people need to do who are not African- American, who are not Latino, is need to just take a deep breath for one minute and say maybe I don’t understand. Maybe there’s something going on here that I need to look at, because you know, all of the polling shows the sharp divide,” she said.
“…And Ferguson, they most definitely need to diversify the leadership of that city, the police department, the city council, and so we need to look at things both in the short-term and the long-term.”
Bass addressed Brown taking cigarillos from a convenience store before the attack.
“Since when do we not have trials? Since when do we execute people?” she said. “I mean, the way that the information was leaked from Day One of this case, intentionally leaking the information about the video. It’s terrible if he committed a crime before this happened, but even if he did commit a crime, is a police officer supposed to be the jury and the executioner on the spot? So, you know, it’s that kind of mentality that we really need to begin to look at.”
Bass also pushed back against criticism of the media exposure of the Brown shooting and protests.
“If you think about the Civil Rights Movement, if you think about the Rodney King beating, if it wasn’t for the media showing those images to the world, you know, there’s no telling how much longer these situations would go on.”