The Attorney General's Message to the People of Ferguson
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is traveling to Ferguson, Missouri today to review the Department of Justice's ongoing independent investigation into the tragic death of 18-year-old Michael Brown.
In an op-ed in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Attorney General Holder pledged to help find justice for a community that is rightfully hurting and looking for answers:
Today, I will be in Ferguson to be briefed on the federal civil rights investigation that I have closely monitored since I launched it more than one week ago. I will meet personally with community leaders, FBI investigators and federal prosecutors from the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office to receive detailed briefings on the status of this case.
The full resources of the Department of Justice have been committed to the investigation into Michael Brown’s death. This inquiry will take time to complete, but we have already taken significant steps. Approximately 40 FBI agents and some of the Civil Rights Division’s most experienced prosecutors have been deployed to lead this process, with the assistance of the United States Attorney in St. Louis. Hundreds of people have already been interviewed in connection with this matter. On Monday, at my direction, a team of federal medical examiners conducted an independent autopsy.
We understand the need for an independent investigation, and we hope that the independence and thoroughness of our investigation will bring some measure of calm to the tensions in Ferguson. In order to begin the healing process, however, we must first see an end to the acts of violence in the streets of Ferguson. Although these acts have been committed by a very small minority -- and, in many cases, by individuals from outside Ferguson -- they seriously undermine, rather than advance, the cause of justice. And they interrupt the deeper conversation that the legitimate demonstrators are trying to advance.
The Justice Department will defend the right of protesters to peacefully demonstrate and for the media to cover a story that must be told. But violence cannot be condoned. I urge the citizens of Ferguson who have been peacefully exercising their First Amendment rights to join with law enforcement in condemning the actions of looters, vandals and others seeking to inflame tensions and sow discord.
Attorney General Holder offered a pledge to the Ferguson community:
This is my pledge to the people of Ferguson: Our investigation into this matter will be full, it will be fair, and it will be independent. And beyond the investigation itself, we will work with the police, civil rights leaders, and members of the public to ensure that this tragedy can give rise to new understanding -- and robust action — aimed at bridging persistent gaps between law enforcement officials and the communities we serve. Long after the events of Aug. 9 have receded from the headlines, the Justice Department will continue to stand with this community.