Former Attorney General Eric Holder is warning Americans there could be more incidents like Ferguson, if members of law enforcement and the justice system don’t change the way that they treat people of color.
“When an incident occurs, all this accumulated anger explodes, unfortunately I suspect we’re going to see in other parts of this country as other incidents occur,” Holder explained, discussing his investigation into law enforcement practices in Ferguson, Missouri.
“People got that, they understood what was happening, when I went to Ferguson, talked to people out there, the sense of anger was palpable. It pisses people off.”
Holder, now retired from President Obama’s administration, shared his unvarnished view of police unfairness in communities of color in a Vice/HBO documentary on criminal justice.
“People in various communities, especially communities of color and poor communities see a criminal justice system that they perceive to be unfair, and in fact is unfair in many ways unfair,” Holder said. “That builds up resentment over time and then there is a flashpoint … that’s the spark that hits that powder keg of resentment and then you have what you saw in Ferguson.”
Holder claimed the justice system was “out of control” in Ferguson based on arrest quotas in the system and increasing fines to fund government. Law enforcement and criminal justice systems were currently at a “crossroad,” he explained, pointing to the racial divide among communities of color and law enforcement
“This notion of implicit bias … seeing a young black male and just making an assumption about who he is, what he’s about, how likely he is to be involved in criminal activity simply because of the way he looks,” he said.
Holder expressed his own fears about his son being treated unfairly by police officers, if he was caught doing something illegal but not something “awfully bad.”
He revealed that he had a conversation with his own son called “the talk” where they discuss the dangers of police unfairness, a talk that his own father had with him.
“That’s the conversation I had with my father, I thought my generation might be the last one to have that kind of conversation,” he said.