When U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to investigate the controversial shooting incident between a city policeman and a black teen, he said he was both the highest law officer of the nation “and a black man.” He further claimed he was himself a victim of racial harassment by law enforcement.
In remarks made at a meeting of members of the Ferguson community, Holder stirred some racial strife of his own claiming that, even as he is Attorney General, he was once also a victim. “I can remember being stopped on the New Jersey turnpike on two occasions and accused of speeding. Pulled over… ‘Let me search your car’… 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,” he said.
Holder also fanned the flames of racial strife across the nation hinting that what happened to teenager Michael Brown was common all across the nation.
“The eyes of the nation and the world are watching Ferguson right now,” Holder claimed. “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.”
Holder’s allusion to the situation in Ferguson being so common as to “surface” in communities across the nation, though, is not shared by others. One expert, Maria Haberfeld, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, says that police’s use of deadly force is not on the upswing at all.
“There is no escalation in the use of deadly force. What we are seeing is a proliferation of cellphones and cameras,” Professor Haberfeld told The Wall street Journal on August 12.
A Grand Jury is now looking into whether or not Ferguson officer Darren Wilson will be charged with anything for having shot Michael Brown, but Holder is not waiting for the outcome of that inquiry. He has directed his department of Justice to look into whether or not a civil rights violation occurred.
“We’re looking for possible violations of federal civil rights statutes,” Holder said when he arrived in Missouri.
Holder also met up with Missouri Highway Patrol Caption Ron Johnson, the officer placed in charge of security for the community by Missouri Governor Ron Johnson and a man known for trying to bring a healing touch to the community.
“My man! You are the man!” Holder said as he shook hands during the campaign-style stop in the Ferguson community.
At one point, the Attorney General also called Captain Johnson “my brother” when he realized his office did not acknowledge the Captain’s 26th wedding anniversary.
“We need concrete action to change things in this country,” Holder told crowds in Ferguson.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org