Before arriving in Ferguson, Holder calls for calm and patience


President Obama met with Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. in the Oval Office on Monday before it was announced Holder would head to Ferguson. (Charles Dharapak/AP)

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. has written an editorial aimed at people in the Ferguson area, calling for calm and patience after days of tension have roiled the region and captured the nation’s attention.

In an editorial for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that was published online on Tuesday, Holder said that the Justice Department would defend the rights of protesters as well as the media. He also wrote that “violence cannot be condoned,” asking for those peacefully protesting to condemn looters or vandals in Ferguson.

Holder is scheduled to visit Ferguson on Wednesday for an update on the federal civil rights investigation into Michael Brown’s death. He plans to meet with FBI investigators as well as community leaders and prosecutors.

“We understand the need for an independent investigation, and we hope that the independence and thoroughness of our investigation will bring some measure of calm to the tensions in Ferguson,” Holder wrote. “In order to begin the healing process, however, we must first see an end to the acts of violence in the streets of Ferguson.”

He said that investigators looking into Michael Brown’s death have interviewed hundreds of people, while federal medical examiners carried out an autopsy on Monday (the third that has been carried out, following a county examination of Brown’s body and another autopsy commissioned by Brown’s family).

While Holder criticized the actions of looters and others committing acts of violence, he noted that “good law enforcement requires forging bonds of trust” between residents and those who police them.

“This trust is all-important, but it is also fragile,” he wrote. “It requires that force be used in appropriate ways.”

Holder has previously criticized the police response in Ferguson, saying that he was “deeply concerned” about the use of military equipment in responding to protesters.

Meanwhile, after news of his visit was announced by President Obama on Monday, Holder issued a statement saying he was troubled by “the selective release of information” related to Brown.

Mark Berman is a reporter on the National staff. He runs Post Nation, a destination for breaking news and developing stories from around the country.
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Mark Berman · August 19