To see a photo gallery of Attorney General Holder’s trip to Ferguson, click here.
Attorney General Eric Holder speaks with community members at Drake’s Place restaurant.
On Wednesday, I visited Ferguson, Missouri, to be briefed on the ongoing federal civil rights investigation into the August 9 shooting death of Michael Brown – an investigation I launched more than a week ago. During the course of my visit, I met with law enforcement and community leaders, and had a series of constructive discussions about the importance of maintaining peace, averting future acts of violence and vandalism, and ensuring public safety—as well as the need for outreach and engagement to rebuild a fractured trust between law enforcement and the community it serves.
I will continue to get regular updates and to closely monitor the situation as it unfolds. And although our investigation will take time, the people of Ferguson can have confidence in the federal investigators and prosecutors who are leading this process. Our investigation will be fair, it will be thorough, and it will be independent.
My visit to Ferguson affected me greatly. I had the chance to meet with the family of Michael Brown. I spoke to them not just as Attorney General, but as a father with a teenage son myself. They, like so many in Ferguson, want answers.
As the brother of a retired police officer, I know firsthand that our men and women in uniform perform their duties in the face of tremendous threats and significant personal risk. They put their lives on the line every day, and they often have to make split-second decisions.
Attorney General Eric Holder receives a briefing on the ongoing investigation into the death of Michael Brown.
But in my conversations with dozens of people in Ferguson, it was clear that this shooting incident has brought to the surface underlying tensions that have existed for some time; tensions with a history that still simmers in communities across the country. The national outcry we’ve seen speaks to the sense of mistrust and mutual suspicion that can sometimes take hold in the relationship between law enforcement officers and their constituents.
In traveling to Ferguson, I wanted the residents of the town to know that the Justice Department is firmly dedicated to seeing that justice is served, and to assisting the community as it works to rebuild trust and forge strong relationships with law enforcement. Above all, I wanted to make clear that, while so much else may be uncertain, this Attorney General and this Department of Justice stand by their side.
I hope the relative calm that we witnessed last night can be enduring. To a person, the people I met in Ferguson take great pride in their town. They want a resolution. And despite the mistrust that exists, they reject the violence we’ve seen over the past couple of weeks. In that sense, while I went to Ferguson to provide reassurance, in fact, they gave me hope.
My commitment to them is that, long after this tragic story recedes from headlines, the Justice Department will continue to stand with Ferguson. We will continue to investigate this shooting, and to help the community work toward healing. And we will continue the conversation this incident has sparked about the need to build trust between law enforcement officers and the communities they serve; to use force appropriately; and to ensure fair and equal treatment for everyone who comes into contact with the police.