Three high-ranking politicians made statements Thursday following the continued unrest and excessive police presence in Ferguson, Missouri, following 18-year-old Michael Brown’s death at the hands of police.
Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill said in a statement, “We need to de-militarize this situation—this kind of response by the police has become the problem instead of the solution.”
McCaskill went on to say, “My constituents are allowed to have peaceful protests, and the police need to respect that right and protect that right.”
Shortly after McCaskill’s statement, but five days after the outcry from Ferguson residents began, Missouri’s Governor Jay Nixon announced that he would make “a number of operational shifts” to police procedure, though he did not specify those changes.
President Obama, currently vacationing in Martha’s Vineyard, then delivered a short, anodyne statement, which criticized both aggression from protesters and the heavy-handed policing that followed. “There is never an excuse for violence against police,” he said. Then he added, “There’s no excuse for police to use excessive force against peaceful protests.” Without making any definitive statements, Obama finished by saying, “Now is the time for an open and transparent process to see that justice is done.” Really going out on a limb.
Before ending his statement without taking questions from reporters, President Obama also tersely addressed the brief arrest of two journalists—The Washington Post’s Wesley Lowery and The Huffington Post’s Ryan Reilly: “Here in the United States, police should not be arresting journalists just trying to do their job.” Bold words.
Meanwhile, protesters marched into the Ferguson fire station, where Sen. Claire McCaskill and Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson had been doing TV interviews.
McCaskill’s statement in favor of demilitarizing the police went down well with the gathered crowd. Police Chief Jackson, meanwhile, said designated areas for peaceful protesters would be delineated with cones on Thursday night, something that might actually help, as long as police agree not to use tear gas.
More coverage of the militarization of Ferguson: