Tags: Ferguson in Crisis | Brian Fletcher | Ferguson | Michael Brown | Eric Holder | Justice Department

Ex-Ferguson Mayor: Charge Is 'Political Correctness Gone Astray'

By    |   Thursday, 19 February 2015 04:47 PM

A former mayor of Ferguson, Mo., says the Justice Department is trying to salvage a political win from the Michael Brown case by suing his city's Police Department for racial discrimination.

Brian Fletcher told "MidPoint" host Ed Berliner on Newsmax TV Thursday that his city — still on the mend after rioting last year — is now a victim of "political correctness gone astray."

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Ferguson is "being made an example of so that those that feel there is injustice have some example they can point to as a victory," said Fletcher, who also voiced "disgust" with Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon following new revelations about the governor withholding National Guard troops while Ferguson burned.

CNN reported on Wednesday that the Justice Department is preparing to sue the city for allegedly biased policing against minorities.

Relations between the majority-black St. Louis suburb and its predominantly white police force became an international story after the unarmed Brown, 18, was shot and killed on Aug. 9 in a street confrontation with a white police officer, Darren Wilson.

Protests, rioting and looting followed, with demonstrators portraying Brown as another victim of systemic police brutality against young black men. But a grand jury in November declined to indict Wilson, a ruling that triggered more violence in Ferguson and protests nationwide.

The Justice Department also concluded there was no federal civil rights case to be made against Wilson, who resigned from the force.

Fletcher, who is running for Ferguson City Council with elections on April 7, said he is "not surprised" that the Justice Department under Attorney General Eric Holder is still coming after his city — this time with a broader allegation of discrimination.

Before and during the narrower FBI investigation that focused on Wilson, "Eric Holder made it perfectly clear that he intended to do this by his comments," said Fletcher, calling Holder's public remarks in a visit to Ferguson last year "biased" against the city.

"We in Ferguson don't even understand why there was an investigation in the first place," Fletcher said of the federal probe into allegedly discriminatory practices. "We had a shooting of an unarmed African-American teen — the first in 120 years of any teen being shot [in Ferguson]. It certainly didn't justify an investigation, especially when the grand jury and the government themselves have found that the officer acted within his job description."

Fletcher said that Holder is scapegoating Ferguson so that "the protesters will feel they have accomplished something," and he questioned the timing of the leak to CNN, with local elections coming up.

A self-described lifelong Democrat, Fletcher said "there's a general disgust" with Missouri's Democratic governor, Nixon, who at first told Ferguson officials and business owners that "violence will not be tolerated" and that their properties would be protected following a grand jury verdict on Wilson.

Today, Nixon is defending his decision to withhold National Guard troops from Ferguson when violence flared after the verdict on the night of Nov. 24, arguing that property destruction was a better outcome than "a larger and broader gunfight," the St. Louis Post Dispatch reports.

Fletcher said the reality is that business owners who armed themselves that night and stayed at their properties got through the chaos intact, while those who took the governor at his word, and stayed away, returned the next day to find their properties burned out or looted.

Nixon feared that a militarized show of force in Ferguson would only inflame protesters, the St. Louis Post Dispatch reports.

Fletcher disagreed, saying that with "the mere presence of the National Guard … much of the looting would have been prevented and probably all of the burning."

Fletcher, who has spearheaded rebuilding efforts as chairman of the I Love Ferguson committee, said that race relations in the city today are "no different than [they've] been for decades."

"I just left a local coffee house where both African-Americans and Caucasians mix and talk," he said. "Again, as a mayor I had one racial concern in six years; none of the elected officials ever brought any concerns to me. We had the same amount of racial tension that any [suburban] ring city within the United States would have. There's always social and economic issues, there's poverty, and we deal with that the best we can."

He said I Love Ferguson has raised and donated $100,000 to local mom-and-pop businesses for repairs and reopenings. The tireless civic booster who wept in November as he described the destruction said on Thursday that "time will heal" even as Ferguson labors under a "tainted" reputation.

Some residents are moving away, "and that's really sad because the people that live here do love the city," said Fletcher. "And to some extent, the government and the national media have made us a very bad example. Something that's unfair and untruthful. We have been truly victimized."

"It's difficult," he said of the aftermath, "but we are survivors and we'll come back and hopefully be better than ever."

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A former mayor of Ferguson, Mo., says the Justice Department is trying to salvage a political win from the Michael Brown case by suing his city's Police Department for racial discrimination.
Brian Fletcher, Ferguson, Michael Brown, Eric Holder, Justice Department
Thursday, 19 February 2015 04:47 PM
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