On Sunday, Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) said Ferguson, Missouri police chief Tom Jackson and local leaders should apologize to the community for their handling of Michael Brown’s death.
“Well, I think that the police chief and the mayor and other local officials have a moral obligation and responsibility to literally apologize to the community,” Lewis said on Meet the Press. “And the city mothers or city fathers should come together in a fashion, reach out to the African American community and say, ‘We’re going to work together for the common good.'”
Jackson, the police chief, released a video of Michael Brown allegedly robbing a convenience store on Friday. Hours later, Jackson said that the officer did not know that Brown was the prime suspect in the robbery when he stopped him. Jackson then said the officer may have suspected that Brown was the alleged robber after seeing cigars in his hands.
Lewis encouraged leaders to say, “‘We all live in this city together and we’ve got to learn to live together as brothers and sisters,’ as Dr. King would say, ‘Or we’re going to perish as fools.'”
He then said it was a “disgrace” that Ferguson only had three black police officers and then implied that the American South was still plenty racist.
“We have to get police officers, locally-elected officials to respect the dignity and the words of every human being. It’s a shame and a disgrace that in a city that is almost 70% African American to have only three African American police officers,” he continued. “Ferguson is not in the American South. But we’re doing much better in the small towns and cities in Georgia and Alabama and Mississippi. This is shameful. This is a disgrace.”
After a week of looting and rioting that forced Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon to order a curfew, Lewis, who was beaten on the Edmund Pettus Bridge while marching for voting rights, said, “we must teach people the way of peace, the way of love, the way of nonviolence. But we cannot have peace and order without justice.”