The Role the Federal Government Plays in Ferguson, Missouri
WASHINGTON, D.C. — At first it was a brief statement, "We lost a young man, Michael brown, in heartbreaking and tragic circumstances." Then the national guard was sent in. Now attorney general Eric Holder is headed to Ferguson, Missouri. Still the violence rages on. So what is the role of the president in crises such as this? "Sending in the top law official in the country shows that there's some seriousness on the part of the federal government in resolving the issue," said Professor Steven Taylor of American University He says it serves as a checks and balances system to make sure local officials with ties to the community and to the authorities are shedding light on all the facts in the investigation. Comparisons are now being drawn with other events of the past - the killing of three civil rights workers 50 years ago in Mississippi and the brutal beating of Rodney King in 1991. In those instances, the accused authorities were acquitted in state courts and the federal government stepped in to investigate civil rights violations. "Certainly that was the case in Los Angeles in 1991 after police officers beat Rodney King then some of them were convicted on civil rights violations in 1993," said Taylor. He is not sure that will happen this time around. As for how far the federal government should go? Missouri Senator Roy Blunt said in a statement he agrees the federal government should have a role, but cautions it should not assume the state and local government's responsibilities. In Ferguson, where trust in authorities is running low, having a second and third pair of eyes seems to be the best strategy for now.