Dem Rep: Without Ferguson Justice, ‘There Is Going To Be A Problem In The Streets’
St. Louis, Mo. (CBS ST. LOUIS) — Rep. William Lacy Clay, D-Mo., said he is not concerned about slain Ferguson teenager Michael Brown’s funeral reigniting tensions this week, but said if there is no “justice” brought to the situation then “there is going to be a problem in the streets.”
Clay, who will be speaking at Brown’s funeral Monday, told CBS News’ “Face The Nation” on Sunday that he is doing everything to bring all of the resources of the federal government to investigate the shooting of the unarmed Brown by Officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9.
“I am not really concerned about the funeral reigniting the tensions. Well, I guess what I am most concerned about, and I made a promise to Michael Brown’s parents that I would do everything to bring all of the resources of the federal government to this investigation so that it is transparent, so that it is a viable investigation, and we get to the truth,” said Clay.
“Now, I am more concerned that if we do not get to the truth and get to what actually happened and bring justice to this situation, then there is going to be a problem in the streets,” he added.
Clay’s comments follow President Barack Obama’s ordering of a review of the program to supply military combat gear to local police throughout the country. Clay said he “applaud[s]” the president’s action on the program that gives military weapons to police and said he and fellow Missouri Democrat Rep. Emanuel Cleaver were so “alarmed” at the heavily armed police force that they met with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on the matter earlier this week.
“Right now is to improve police-community relations,” said Clay. “There needs to be a frank discussion about how we change the way the African-American community is policed. These people were sworn to serve and protect. And apparently that is not happening here. And so we have to change that dynamic.
“I think that police should be required to wear a body camera,” continued Clay. “I think that each car, each police car should be equipped with a camera, so that when incidents like this occur in the future, there is no dispute. It is on tape and then we can sort out the evidence in a clear way.”
Ferguson authorities used tear gas and smoke in an effort to disperse protesters during violent protests that lasted nearly two weeks.
Continuing in discussion of U.S. race relations, USA Today’s Washington Bureau Chief Susan Page said that the Ferguson incident has shown Americans of the racial problems that persist in the country despite having increased African-American leadership on the federal level.
“I think what it has done is reminded Americans about some of the racial problems that persist. And, boy, it spotlights once again the chasm between the way whites and blacks tend to see issues like this,” said Page.
“You know, only about a third of whites thought the police went too far,” continued Page. “Two-thirds of blacks thought the police went too far in Ferguson. So maybe, you know, we think we have an African-American president, we have an African-American attorney general, a lot of us think we have made real progress in race relations, this is a reminder of how far we still have to go.”