U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder will be in Ferguson, Mo., Wednesday to meet with community leaders and FBI agents to be briefed on the federal civil rights investigation into unarmed teen Michael Brown’s death.
Penning a piece for the local newspaper, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Holder promised that the Department of Justice’s probe would be fair and thorough.
“At a time when so much may seem uncertain, the people of Ferguson can have confidence that the Justice Department intends to learn—in a fair and thorough manner—exactly what happened,” he wrote. “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.”
Holder detailed the resources going toward uncovering the details of Brown’s death, including, he noted in the piece, 40 FBI agents and “some of the Civil Rights Division’s most experienced prosecutors” who have been organized to lead the investigation.
However, the attorney general urged protesters to remain calm, as well as encouraged them to take a stance against the looters and vandals who have been “undermining” their cause.
“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,” Holder wrote.
He also sent a similar message out to law enforcement monitoring the protests, writing that while he knew of the sacrifices they make in their jobs “in the face of tremendous threats and significant personal risk,” it was also important to remember the need for trust between the police and the public.
“Good law enforcement requires forging bonds of trust between the police and the public. This trust is all-important, but it is also fragile. It requires that force be used in appropriate ways,” Holder wrote. “Enforcement priorities and arrest patterns must not lead to disparate treatment under the law, even if such treatment is unintended. And police forces should reflect the diversity of the communities they serve.
“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,” Holder said in closing his article. “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.”
Read more at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.