KANSAS CITY, Mo. – As cleanup efforts in Ferguson continue, a politician who has spent time in that city since the violence began, expressed his opinion Saturday to FOX 4 News.
U.S. Congressman Emanuel Cleaver was in Kansas City Saturday. He says it’s time now to begin the reconciliation process.
“I don’t expect there’s going to be much violence in the future,” said Cleaver, who represents Missouri’s fifth district, which includes parts of Kansas City and most of Jackson County.
Since the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown last Saturday in Ferguson, Cleaver has spent time in suburban St. Louis surveying the situation.
“Having military style weaponry moving down the main street of a middle-American town is as un-American as a coup d’état rather than an election,” said Cleaver.
Cleaver says the Ferguson police chief and his department are “monumentally inept” at dealing with a crisis of this nature.
Cleaver said, “Arresting members of the U.S. press is what we except in Afghanistan or in Russia.”
He also feels a militaristic presence is not the answer.
“I think that is obscene. And we’ve got to stop it because the police chief in Ferguson himself said we haven’t had training on this equipment, and yet, the world saw police officers with military helmets sitting in front of machine guns, pointing them at the crowd. That incited I think, some of the violence we’ve seen with the crowd,” he said.
Ferguson’s police chief says his force has shown restraint.
“In spite of the perception that’s been out there, you know, across the country about the tactics and the exchanges between police, no deadly force was used and not a single protester war rioter was injured during this entire process,” said Chief Thomas Jackson.
Cleaver says he relates to Brown’s family.
“I think most Americans; black, white or brown, and the crowd incidentally is a mixed crowd, relate to the situation that, that is my son. It could’ve been anybody’s son,” he said.
Cleaver also wishes Congress could intervene through inspiration.
He said, “Can you imagine the United States Congress issuing a statement about civility, about handling disagreements differently? We can’t do it. And I think that’s one of the embarrassing moments of this time.”
Congressman Cleaver says he and Congressman Lacy Clay are supposed to meet with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel next week, to talk about the push to demilitarize local police agencies.