Updated Friday, Nov. 21, 11:20 a.m. EST: U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder promoted the Justice Department’s new guidelines for law enforcement on how to maintain order during First Amendment-protected events on Friday, saying that they “minimize needless confrontation.”
“The Justice Department encourages law-enforcement officials, in every jurisdiction, to work with the communities they serve to minimize needless confrontation,” the attorney general said in his video statement. “It is vital to engage in planning and preparation, from evaluating protocols and training to choosing the appropriate equipment and uniforms. This is the hard work that is necessary to preserve the peace and maintain the public trust at all times—particularly in moments of heightened community tension.”
Holder also encouraged protesters to maintain peace, noting, “History has also shown us that the most successful and enduring movements for change are those that adhere to nonaggression and nonviolence. And so I ask all those who seek to lend their voice to important causes and discussions, and who seek to elevate these vital conversations, to do so in a way that respects the gravity of their subject matter.
“Peaceful protest has been a hallmark, and a legacy, of past movements for change, from patriotic women who demanded access to the franchise, to the civil rights pioneers who marched for equal rights and equal justice. Americans exercising their First Amendment right to free assembly should look to those examples as they work to bring about real and lasting change for themselves and for future generations,” the attorney general added.
Holder’s remarks come hours after yet another confrontation between officers and demonstrators in Ferguson, Mo., as the city awaits the grand jury decision in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown.
Thursday, police and protesters faced off for the second night in a row outside the Ferguson, Mo., police headquarters, CBS News reports.
According to the report, dozens of protesters were lined up for about an hour, reportedly taunting the 31 officers who were attempting to secure a perimeter around the station. However, when protesters tried to move into the street and started blocking cars, a confrontation ensued.
CBS reports that police went after protesters with pepper spray, batons, bean-bag rifles and shields. Three demonstrators were reportedly arrested, and others were reportedly tossed to the ground. One reporter for KMOV-TV, a CBS affiliate, was hit in the eyes with pepper spray.
As tensions continue to rise in anticipation of a grand jury decision in the case of Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson, who shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown on Aug. 9, and as clashes between police and protesters continue, Brown’s father has urged peace.
“I thank you for lifting your voices to end racial profiling and police intimidation. But hurting others or destroying property is not the answer. No matter what the grand jury decides, I do not want my son’s death to be in vain. I want it to lead to incredible change, positive change, change that makes the St. Louis region better for everyone,” he said in a video message.
Read more at CBS News.