BEEN THERE: Attorney General Eric Holder shares personal experiences while in Ferguson
By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
8/21/2014 (2 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
In Ferguson, Missouri to investigate the officer-involved shooting of teenager Michael Brown, Attorney General Eric Holder shared personal stories of his own encounters with racial discrimination. "I am the Attorney General of the United States, but I am also a black man," Holder told Ferguson residents at a community meeting. He then related his own experiences, and how it shaped him as a public official.
Attorney General Eric Holder shakes hands with Bri Ehsan, right, following his meeting with students at St. Louis Community College Florissant Valley.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "I can remember being stopped on the New Jersey turnpike on two occasions and accused of speeding. Pulled over. ... 'Let me search your car,'" Holder said. "Go through the trunk of my car, look under the seats and all this kind of stuff. I remember how humiliating that was and how angry I was and the impact it had on me."
Holder was in Ferguson as the nation's chief law enforcement officer to lead the investigation into the police shooting.
Holder says he's fully aware of the racial tensions that have fueled days of protests that have been marred by violence and mass arrests since the August 9 shooting of Michael Brown by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson.
Holder was there primarily for briefings on the Justice Department's ongoing investigation into possible civil rights violations in connection with the fatal shooting.
"The eyes of the nation and the world are watching Ferguson right now," Holder told a group of community leaders at a local community college. "The world is watching because the issues raised by the shooting of Michael Brown predate this incident. This is something that has a history to it, and the history simmers beneath the surface in more communities than just Ferguson."
Among the students who met with Holder was 27-year-old Molyric Welch who said her brother died following an encounter with Ferguson police in 2011. Her 31-year-old brother, Jason Moore, died of cardiac arrest after officers allegedly used a stun gun during a disturbance call.
"A lot has happened here," she said. "He (Holder) promised things were going to change."
Holder arrived as a local grand jury began hearing evidence to determine whether Wilson should be charged in the fatal shooting.
In addition, the Justice Department is conducting a parallel investigation into possible civil rights violations related to the shooting. In an extraordinary move, he also ordered a federal autopsy - the third forensic examination of the body, which was hit at least six times by gunfire.
Holder said the Justice Department had assembled "very experienced" prosecutors and agents to pursue the federal civil rights inquiry.
"Our investigation is different," Holder said. "We're looking for possible violations of federal civil rights statutes."
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