Lawyers’ Committee Welcomes Federal Probe Of Ferguson Police


Ferguson Police chief Tom Jackson

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee) applauds today’s announcement by Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. to launch a civil rights investigation of the Ferguson, Missouri, Police Department following the August 9th fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed African American teenager. 

The federal investigation by the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Civil Rights Division, represents a bold and necessary step by Attorney General Holder and the Obama Administration since a white Ferguson police officer shot Brown at least six times, resulting in weeks of protesting, unrest and further police-related incidents in the area.

“As the covers are rolled back during this investigation revealing the actual practices by the police department, including patterns of racially disproportionate policing, the Lawyers’ Committee remains hopeful that the application of the rule of law will yield a just and fair result not only for Michael Brown and his family, but also regarding former and pending Ferguson police lawsuits and internal investigations” said Lawyers’ Committee President and Executive Director Barbara Arnwine.

“It is certainly encouraging that Attorney General Holder stressed the need for diversity across police departments and mentioned proactive steps to engage the St. Louis County Police Department during his remarks.  This probe is a great start and we applaud the ongoing investigations across the country.  Furthermore, we encourage t the DOJ, the FBI and police departments across the country to comprehensively  address the ongoing killing of unarmed African American and Hispanic youth and adults by police and civilians alike that may have had underlying racial motivations.”

Ms. Arnwine, who, along with Lawyers’ Committee Public Policy Director Tanya Clay House, originally convened 14 national civil and human rights organizations and leaders to issue a Unified Statement of Action to Promote Reform and Stop Police Abuse on August 18th, noted that two of the groups’ recommendations have come to fruition:  Ferguson police officers are now equipped with body-worn cameras, which the groups are pushing nationally, and an independent and comprehensive federal investigation by the DOJ of the fatal shooting of Michael Brown.  Four additional groups and nearly 330 independent signatories have joined the open letter which was sent to the White House and the DOJ.

“The Lawyers’ Committee supports continued engagement by the White House and the DOJ’s Community Relations Service with the community and law enforcement,” said Mrs. Clay House.  “Additionally, the Lawyers’ Committee and our partners will continue to work on long-term systemic reform, including the holding of Congressional hearings on the use of excessive and deadly force by police, release of the racial profiling guidance, better community policing and the oversight and distribution of federal weaponry.”



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