Ferguson, Missouri is called “Playful City USA.” Since the killing of unarmed teenager Michael Brown by a yet to be identified police officer, the city of Ferguson could be dubbed “Lockdown City USA,” where the blue skies are always overcast by teargas and large battle-dressed police, who loom over residents with impunity.
As of this morning, calls to the City Council of Ferguson have reached numbers out of service or answering machines. A call was also placed to City of Ferguson Police Department. The operator routed my call to their public relations representative – Officer Zahl. At the time of this post, Officer Zahl had not returned my call.
The question for the City Council and the City of Ferguson Police Department is whether or not a state of emergency has been declared by government. If not, under what authority are the civil rights of African American residents being denied? This may pose a problem for Chief of Police Thomas Jackson. Unless the city council designates the chief of police "Chief administrative officer," he has no power to unilaterally suspend civil rights and issue a curfew.
Whether civil rights violations beyond killing Michael Brown should be investigated by the Department of Justice may be academic at this time. Television stations and the blogosphere are replete with videos of riot-gear clad local police attacking and arresting residents and reporters at will.
Article 1, Section 9, Clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution provides protection from illegal detainment:
“The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.”
A federal civil rights investigation has been opened by the Justice Department into the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, according to the U.S. Attorney's office of Eastern District of Missouri. In a joint statement from U.S. Attorney Richard Callahan, Acting Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Division Molly Moran and FBI SAC William Woods, the independent investigation will determine if any federal civil rights violations have occurred in the case.
The civil rights of those other than Michael Brown appear to have been violated. Will the Department of Justice conduct a full investigation or sweep this under rug?