The police response to protests in Ferguson, Missouri, is just making things worse, and officers should put down their guns and allow protesters to speak their minds, says retired Lt. Gen. Russel Honore, who headed relief efforts in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
"Put a microphone up, put a stage up, put some sunscreen on it so they can come up and talk and express their concerns," Honore said Tuesday on CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360."
Protesters have been on the streets of the St. Louis suburb since the Aug. 9 shooting death of black teenager Michael Brown by white police officer Darren Wilson.
Honore said the people are expressing their belief that they can't get justice. They are practicing civil disobedience, so they will do the opposite of anything an armed police force orders them to do, he said.
Honore said he once endured protests in South Korea for a week and a half. Sometimes, the crowd numbered 100,000 people, he said, "and not once did we point a gun at anyone."
Honore did not agree with Missouri state trooper Capt. Ron Johnson, who is currently in charge of all police operations in Ferguson. Johnson said his officers were justified in taking action against some protesters who threw bottles and bricks at them.
Honore said police should suit up with proper gear.
"The police need to be able to take a hit from water bottles and bricks without shooting at people," he said.
He also suggested that grief counselors be brought in, and that lights should be focused on the few blocks where the protests are taking place to avoid the trouble that usually happens only at night.
Filmmaker Spike Lee also appeared on the show, and said he wants to see Honore put in charge of the operations. Lee said he had talked to Honore, who said he would take over if asked. Cooper did not ask Honore about the conversation.
"We need him there," Lee said.
Lee said there is an orchestrated attempt to cover for the officer involved in the shooting.
"Something smells bad in Ferguson, and it's not just tear gas," he said.
He said he didn't think it was coincidence that a caller claiming to be a friend of the officer called a radio show claiming Brown charged at the officer at the same time police released the officer's name and a security tape of Brown stealing from a convenience store and threatening its clerk.
"It is orchestrated. Anderson, there's a playbook," Lee said. "They are there to protect their own."
Lee said Brown's shooting is part of a war on black males.
"It's not just killing us," said Lee. "It's the educational system, it's the prison system. It's these young black men growing up with no hope."
Despite his earlier talk of bringing in Honore to cool the situation down, Lee gave a warning in the event the officer isn't convicted of Brown's death.
"I just hope that things will really blow up if the people aren't happy with the verdict of this upcoming trial," he said.
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