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UPDATE: Wednesday August 20, 2014

Attorney General Eric Holder has penned a message to Ferguson residents in the wake of Michael Brown’s death.

Holder is in Ferguson meeting with federal law enforcement authorities investigating the death of the unarmed teenager by a Ferguson police officer.

Since the Aug. 9 shooting death of Michael Brown, the nation and the world have witnessed the unrest that has gripped Ferguson, Mo. At the core of these demonstrations is a demand for answers about the circumstances of this young man’s death and a broader concern about the state of our criminal justice system.

At a time when so much may seem uncertain, the people of Ferguson can have confidence that the Justice Department intends to learn — in a fair and thorough manner — exactly what happened.

Today, I will be in Ferguson to be briefed on the federal civil rights investigation that I have closely monitored since I launched it more than one week ago. I will meet personally with community leaders, FBI investigators and federal prosecutors from the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office to receive detailed briefings on the status of this case.

The full resources of the Department of Justice have been committed to the investigation into Michael Brown’s death. This inquiry will take time to complete, but we have already taken significant steps. Approximately 40 FBI agents and some of the Civil Rights Division’s most experienced prosecutors have been deployed to lead this process, with the assistance of the United States Attorney in St. Louis. Hundreds of people have already been interviewed in connection with this matter. On Monday, at my direction, a team of federal medical examiners conducted an independent autopsy.

We understand the need for an independent investigation, and we hope that the independence and thoroughness of our investigation will bring some measure of calm to the tensions in Ferguson. In order to begin the healing process, however, we must first see an end to the acts of violence in the streets of Ferguson. Although these acts have been committed by a very small minority — and, in many cases, by individuals from outside Ferguson — they seriously undermine, rather than advance, the cause of justice. And they interrupt the deeper conversation that the legitimate demonstrators are trying to advance.

The Justice Department will defend the right of protesters to peacefully demonstrate and for the media to cover a story that must be told. But violence cannot be condoned. I urge the citizens of Ferguson who have been peacefully exercising their First Amendment rights to join with law enforcement in condemning the actions of looters, vandals and others seeking to inflame tensions and sow discord.

Read the rest here.


During a White House press conference Monday, President Obama announced he is sending Attorney General Eric Holder to Ferguson, Mo. to meet with federal law enforcement authorities investigating the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown.

Brown, who was unarmed at the time, was shot six times by Officer Darren Wilson on August 9. Wilson has since been placed on paid administrative leave.

His death, coupled with the local police department’s lack of transparency in releasing information surrounding the shooting, has caused nine nights of clashes between police and protestors. Obama, who previously called the shooting of Brown “heartbreaking,” has also called for peace in the coming days.

“Let’s seek to heal, rather than to wound each other,” he said.

Holder will travel to the St. Louis neighborhood on Wednesday. Earlier this week, Holder requested a federal autopsy on the body of the teenager. Obama also confirmed that the Justice Department has opened an independent federal civil rights investigation into Brown’s death.

We will keep you updated with the latest from Ferguson.


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