The congressman whose district includes Ferguson and the former chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus have put up a $3,000 reward for information leading to the shooter(s) of two police officers last night in the embattled Missouri city.
“I completely condemn the cowardly ambush of the brave officers who were wounded last night in Ferguson.” said Rep. Wm. Lacy Clay (D-Mo.). “I ask everyone to join me in prayers for their swift recovery and for healing in our community. The path of violence does not lead to justice.”
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D), also from Missouri and former CBC leader, said “what happened in Ferguson last night was a terrible tragedy, and we cannot stand idly by as others transgress.
“We encourage anyone who has information to come forward,” Cleaver added.
In addition to the lawmakers offering the reward, others came forward today to express condolences and outrage.
Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said he spoke with the Justice Department today “about a couple of things that need to be clarified, depending on the fluid situation in Ferguson as it relates to the relationship between the St. Louis County Police Department and the Ferguson Police Department itself.”
“As I’ve said before, I think the irresponsible discussion that began last year of the so-called ‘militarization’ of police was almost totally fact-free. In the wake of the tragic events that took place in Ferguson last August, some reported on ‘armored’ vehicles as if they were ‘armed’ vehicles. They talked about the police looking for trouble. I have looked at all the equipment the police had there, and essentially they are bullet-proof vehicles. I’m sure if one of those would have been there last night, people would have quickly rallied around it. That equipment might not have prevented the tragedy of two policemen being shot, but local law enforcement should be able to make decisions about how they’re uniformed and what kind of equipment they need at any given location,” Blunt said in a statement.
“The police are trying to get home to their families alive. They have a hard job to do, protecting people and protecting protestors.”
Some protesters have been telling news networks today that they don’t believe the shooter was among their ranks, but Blunt said “clearly the protesters themselves were very near where the police were shot last night, and we should be concerned about that fact.”
CBC Chairman G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) said the caucus “understands the frustrations in Ferguson, but a response of violence is not the answer during this transformative moment in our country.”
“Ferguson weighs heavily on our minds, and we must work together constructively to address the disparities in the criminal justice system across the country,” Butterfield said, stressing CBC members were “saddened” by the shooting of two police officers. “We call for calm in the city of Ferguson following months of unrest and tension.”
Another CBC member, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), called the shootings “inexcusable and cowardly” and stressed “violence against any public safety official should be condemned period.”
“Such senseless acts of violence threaten the very reforms that law abiding protesters in Ferguson and around the country have been working towards for the past several months,” Jackson Lee said. “…The Ferguson community is a peaceful community that mourns the loss of Michael Brown and they want their children to be raised in a peaceful community.”
“The community must remain calm. There was no reason for these senseless shootings to occur other than thuggish criminal behavior.”
Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Wash.), a former sheriff who worked the Green River Killer case, said the shooting was simply “intolerable.”
“More protests and more violence are not the answer. The community and law enforcement must partner together, working with respect and towards a mutual goal,” Reichert said. “I pray for the swift recovery of the two officers, and I pray that justice will prevail. It is time for peace in Ferguson; it is time for healing. Order must be restored so that, together, we can build a brighter future for our children.”
President Obama issued a tweet:
Violence against police is unacceptable. Our prayers are with the officers in MO. Path to justice is one all of us must travel together. –bo
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) March 12, 2015
— Ben Kesling (@bkesling) March 12, 2015