Did the Authorities Let Ferguson Burn?

November 25, 2014
Web Exclusive

During a press conference attended by the parents of Michael Brown, Amy Goodman asks Rev. Al Sharpton about whether authorities let parts of Ferguson burn last night. She also asks about the case of the three slain civil rights workers awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Monday: Does that case offer hope for federal charges against Darren Wilson?

AMY GOODMAN: Two quick questions. Yesterday, the grand jury handed down its decision. In Washington, President Obama awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom to the three civil rights activists, Schwerner, Chaney and Goodman, who—their killers were not indicted by the state, but by the federal government. Are you hoping for the same thing here?

And number two, last night, as we covered the protests in front of the Ferguson police station, it was packed with riot police. State troopers were there. All the advanced weaponry was there. When we went over to West Florissant and expected to be stopped there by the police, as we were at the protests months ago, it was wide open. We saw no state troopers, and we hardly saw police. Do you think the authorities let Ferguson burn?

CROWD: Yes! Yes! Yes!

REV. AL SHARPTON: Well, let me say, to the first part—to the first part of your question, because I think the second question has been answered. The first part of your question, it is—and you are probably more aware than most of the media, if not all that are here—it has been the legacy of the civil rights movement that you always had to go to the federal government and could not depend on states, whether it was Goodman, Chaney or Schwerner, whether it was Michael Brown Jr. So, we are not in a strange place. We had hoped we’d be in a different place, but it’s not strange.

And I think that it is interesting that on the day that Goodman, Chaney and Schwerner were given the Medal of Freedom was the day that McCulloch decided, in the dark hours, to announce his state decision on the Michael Brown case. And eight years ago today, Sean Bell was killed by police in New York. So, all of these things come together. But I think the lawyers have stated the legal case. I say that many of us, from Marc Morial and Cornell Brooks and all of us, this is not our first rodeo, McCulloch. We will deal with this in a way civil rights leaders have.

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