Jesse Jackson: 'Absolutely' No Reason for Officer to Shoot

Monday, 18 Aug 2014 04:21 PM

By Bill Hoffmann

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The Rev. Jesse Jackson says there are absolutely no circumstances under which police officer Darren Wilson should have shot Michael Brown, whose death has sparked a week of rioting and racial unrest in Ferguson, Mo.

"Absolutely not, there is no evidence of a confrontation, there's no evidence that Michael was armed and threatening the police,'' the veteran civil-rights leader said Monday on "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.

"He was unarmed, without a weapon of any sort … and so we need not try to stretch to find out just how wrong this killing has been.''

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Brown, 18, was shot six times by Wilson, who had confronted him for blocking traffic. It has since emerged that Brown may have charged Wilson, prompting the officer to defend himself.

Brown was also a suspect in an earlier convenience store robbery, although Wilson did not know that at the time.

For the past week, police have battled rioters and looters, but have also been criticized for arresting journalists and tear-gassing peaceful protesters. The National Guard was called in on Monday.

Jackson, who is in Ferguson to meet with community leaders, said the tension has not eased in the wake of an autopsy report that revealed the number of bullets Brown took, including two to the head.

"The clear case is that Mike Brown was killed real violently and [was] unarmed in his own neighborhood,'' he said.

Jackson said there is no reason why the predominantly African American city should not be represented by more black police officers, noting there are only three on the force of about 50.

"There are a group of [African American] veterans who live here who've been to Iraq,'' he said.

"They're qualified to serve in the military to defend us abroad, and they can defend their own neighborhoods at home, [so] there is no lack of qualified black policemen.

"When black and white police ride together you're more likely to have better race relations."

Jackson said the peaceful protests being staged in Ferguson are in keeping with the traditions started by civil-rights icons Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela.

"On the other hand, we do not encourage anybody to be looting stores…. I support non-violent discipline, direct action for change. It works.''

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