Missouri Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D) said it could have set race relations back by several decades if police had fired back at the shooter of two officers in Ferguson late Wednesday.
Cleaver, the former chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, along with Ferguson Rep. Wm. Lacy Clay (D-Mo.) has offered a $3,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the shooter(s) responsible for wounding two officers outside of the Ferguson Police Department.
Cleaver told CNN today that “what I think most people can agree on including the police in Ferguson is that the shots didn’t come from the demonstrators.”
“It came from a hill. We don’t know race or ethnicity,” he said.
He and Clay “believe that there’s no excuse for shooting at police officers, law enforcement officers who get up in the morning and go out and put their lives on the line to protect us.”
“We don’t know the hearts of the gentlemen who were shot, the police officers who were shot. But we think that it’s something that we all abhor,” the congressman said, adding that they’ll be talking later in the day about potentially raising more reward money. “We think somebody called in. We have a nice sum of money.”
Cleaver stressed that whoever shot at the police officers — wounding one in the shoulder and one in the face — “did a tremendous amount of damage to race relations.”
“Just think about this. What if when the shots were fired the police — just one police officer had picked up to use his revolver shooting into the crowd. Today we would be talking about massacre and we would be talking about race relations dipping back 75, 80 years. And I’m also wondering if that was one of the goals. If somebody, whoever did it, wanted to continue to damage race relations. And all people of good will ought to be about the business of trying to reduce racial tension,” he said.
“It’s kind of like embroidery that I saw my grandmother doing. Racial progress in terms of race relations is made stitch by stitch and we hope that what we just did will be a stitch in a big embroidery piece that no one should tolerate this kind of thing and people ought to speak out,” Cleaver continued.
“I mean, you know, people will make nasty comments about the President or Mrs. Obama and there are people who are asked should they have said that he’s a Muslim. And we have people all the time, well, he says he’s a Christian. Let’s start condemning things that are wrong.”