A night of relative calm fell over Ferguson, Mo., following U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s visit to the city, where tensions have run high since the killing of unarmed black teen Michael Brown by Darren Wilson, a white police officer.
Holder, who was in town to be briefed on the Department of Justice’s federal civil rights investigation into the case, met with Brown’s parents and mingled with townsfolk and students as he went about his duties.
He had said that he hoped his visit “will have a calming influence on the area,” according to a pool report. The attorney general met with students at Florissant Valley Community College, in the north part of St. Louis, according to pool reports, before meeting with community leaders.
Some students got to tell the attorney general their personal stories and describe their interactions with law enforcement. Molyric Welch, 27, told Holder how her brother died after a 2011 encounter with Ferguson police. Her brother, Jason Moore, died from cardiac arrest after officers allegedly used a stun gun on him while responding to a call. “A lot has happened here,” she said, according to pool reports. “[Holder] promised things were going to change.”
Holder also spoke while at the college, explaining that he understood the mistrust of law enforcement. He even related his own experiences while living in Georgetown: “I understand that mistrust. I am the attorney general of the United States. But I am also a black man,” Holder said, according to the Washington Post. “I think about my time in Georgetown—a nice neighborhood of Washington—and I am running to a picture movie at about 8 o’clock at night. I am running with my cousin. Police car comes driving up, flashes his lights, yells, ‘Where you going? Hold it!’ I say, ‘Whoa, I’m going to a movie.’ ”
The attorney general also stopped at a local restaurant, Drake’s Place Restaurant, to speak with diners. While there, he briefly met with the new man in charge, Missouri State Highway Patrol Capt. Ronald Johnson. Johnson reportedly told Holder that things were “getting better,” while Holder advised him to “get some rest,” according to pool reports.
Johnson also gave his own remarks, telling reporters that the community is “rallying against the criminals.” The Highway Patrol captain added that Holder’s presence guaranteed his confidence in the investigation being conducted locally by the St. Louis County prosecuting attorney.
Holder met with Michael Brown’s parents at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, as well as with Missouri officials such as Gov. Jay Nixon; Republican Sen. Roy Blunt and Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Democrat; and Democratic Reps. Emanuel Cleaver and Lacy Clay.
Read more at the Washington Post.