After a week of riots and looting in Ferguson, Missouri, Charles Ogletree, the Harvard Law professor who was President Barack Obama’s mentor, predicted that this is just the beginning of more unrest.
After police shot and killed Michael Brown last weekend, Ogletree said the problem is, “you have these white officers who don’t live there, who aren’t a part of the community, who don’t know the community, and yet they’re given all the power to make things happen.”
“We need to have a change in that sense right now,” Ogletree said on Meet The Press. “And I’ll tell you what, people think that three days of rioting is the end of it in Ferguson, Missouri. It’s just starting.”
“The people are upset, they’re frustrated, they want to take their city back, they don’t like the way the young black men are being stopped and killed,” Ogletree continued. “How many people have to bury young people for people to understand that something is wrong in Ferguson, Missouri? And I think we have to change that right now.”
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) instituted a midnight curfew on Saturday. After multiple arrests after police were forced to fire tear gas to disperse the crowd, there will be another midnight curfew on Sunday evening.
Ogletree advocated for non-violence and said Ferguson residents should learn from the non-violent protests of Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) (R-GA) during the 1960s. He also said of the federal government’s investigation, “we need a lot more to happen, a lot more to get going.”
Ogletree also praised Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) for his op-ed in which he pointed out that black Americans have every right to feel that their government is targeting them, especially when local police forces are militarized.
“I think Rand Paul is telling the truth,” Ogletree said. “And I’m glad that the Republican is saying that. I think people are going to really understand that this is a problem. And what’s going on in Ferguson, Missouri, is now like any other city. It’s never going to change. The conflict between African Americans who are arrested too often, too young, too many times by white police officers, and this is a predominantly black community.”
In his Time op-ed, Paul said that “it is almost impossible for many Americans not to feel like their government is targeting them,” and “given the racial disparities in our criminal justice system, it is impossible for African-Americans not to feel like their government is particularly targeting them.”
“Anyone who thinks that race does not still, even if inadvertently, skew the application of criminal justice in this country is just not paying close enough attention,” Paul wrote. “Our prisons are full of black and brown men and women who are serving inappropriately long and harsh sentences for non-violent mistakes in their youth.”