Missouri politicians urged calm after a Grand Jury declined to indict a white police officer in the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Mo.
Riots and looting broke in Ferguson on Monday night after a St. Louis County Grand Jury decided not to indict police offer Darren Wilson for killing 18-year-old Michael Brown.
U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Kansas City, used Twitter to reach out to those angry about the lack of indictment. He argued that the fight for justice needs more “firmness of purpose than a fight in the street,” and that protestors should make their voices heard at the ballot box.
Cleaver tweeted that he and his wife had raised three sons and they understood the challenges young black men face growing up.
“Our heart goes out to Michael Brown's family for their tragic loss,” Cleaver wrote. “But violence, looting, and arson are not the answer. Not even close.
“We sacrifice the safety of others,” he added, “by creating chaos instead of pursuing a path to protect the rights of all Americans, regardless of color.”
Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., acknowledged that many people were disappointed with the Grand Jury’s decision, but the former prosecutor noted that it resulted from “a deliberate legal process” that will be independently investigated by the U.S. Justice Department.
“While we await the conclusion of that independent investigation — and continue working together for solutions to systemic issues highlighted by this tragedy — I’m praying that the good people of St. Louis and local law enforcement will remain peaceful and respectful of one another,” she said.
Missouri’s Republican Senator, Roy Blunt, stressed the need to balance free speech alongside the rights of Ferguson’s residents to live safely in their community
“I join Michael Brown’s family in urging protestors to do so peacefully,” Blunt said in a written statement.
“I’ve talked extensively to law enforcement officials to learn more about the tactics, resources, and procedures that our first responders utilize statewide,” he added. “Law enforcement officials have been candid in identifying ways officers could have handled the situation in Ferguson better, and I trust those recommendations will be helpful as we continue to count on them to protect us.”