For Release: September 4, 2014
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Obama Administration Probe of Ferguson Police Called "Well Past a Rush to Judgment"
DOJ May Be Signaling It Does Not Expect an Indictment in Michael Brown Shooting Death
Washington, D.C. - Activists with the Project 21 black leadership network are questioning Attorney General Eric Holder's decision to mount a federal investigation of the Ferguson, Missouri Police Department and other law enforcement in the region, saying this is "well past a rush to judgment" and most likely is compensation for the possibility that an indictment may not be handed down in the death of Michael Brown.
Obama Administration officials told the media that Holder will soon announce that the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department will launch a potentially wide-ranging probe of St. Louis-area police departments. Project 21 members think this federal response to the shooting death of Ferguson resident Michael Brown by Officer Darren Wilson of the Ferguson Police Department on August 9 is a political move on the part of the White House and an overreaction to the situation.
"I believe the fact that the Justice Department is planning to open this investigation signals they do not believe there is a strong case against Officer Wilson and that a grand jury will probably not bring down an indictment against him," said Project 21's Christopher Arps, a St. Louis resident. "If that is the eventuality, the Justice Department will have a tough burden proving that Officer Wilson shot Michael Brown solely on the basis of his skin color."
"The Justice Department has raced well past 'a rush to judgment' and now is just piling on. Before the evidence is in as to what happened in the Michael Brown shooting, Attorney General Eric Holder plans to announce that -- in addition to the over 40 FBI agents and other Justice Department staff who have been assigned to the Brown shooting -- he will ramp up even more agents and staff in order to investigate the entire Ferguson Police Department and other local law enforcement," said Project 21 Co-Chairman Horace Cooper, a legal commentator who taught constitutional law at George Mason University and is a former leadership staff member for the U.S. House of Representatives. "Meanwhile, there has been no announcement of the Justice Department starting a probe -- or even sending one FBI agent -- regarding terrorist Abdirahmaan Muhumed's activity as an airport employee in Minnesota before joining the Islamic terrorist network ISIS. Does the Attorney General really believe the Ferguson police are more dangerous to the American people than the terrorists who behead our fellow citizens, or is this new investigation just racial grandstanding by Holder?"
Holder's announcement will come on the heels of an academic study by criminologists at the University of Missouri-St. Louis that found the disproportionate rate of police shooting incidents involving blacks in the St. Louis area between 2003 and 2012 correlates to a similarly disproportionate rate of interaction between police and black residents there and crime being concentrated in black communities. David Klinger, one of the authors of the report, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: "Race is not a predominant factor driving [police] shootings. It's violence in the communities." A lack of black officers was also determined to lie in difficulties in minority recruitment efforts.
Project 21 members have already completed over 100 radio and television interviews on the death of Michael Brown and unrest in Ferguson, Missouri in addition to being interviewed or cited by the media over 1,000 other times in 2014 -- including TVOne, the Philadelphia Inquirer, Fox News Channel, Westwood One, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, SiriusXM satellite radio and the 50,000-watt radio stations WBZ-Boston, WHO-Des Moines, KDKA-Pittsburgh, KOA-Denver and WJR-Detroit -- on issues that include civil rights, entitlement programs, the economy, race preferences, education and corporate social responsibility. Project 21 has participated in cases before the U.S. Supreme Court regarding race preferences and voting rights, defended voter ID laws at the United Nations and provided regular commentary during the Trayvon Martin judicial proceedings in 2013. Its volunteer members come from all walks of life and are not salaried political professionals.
Project 21, a leading voice of black conservatives for over two decades, is sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research (http://www.nationalcenter.org).
Contributions to the National Center are tax-deductible and greatly appreciated.