John Lewis: President should send National Guard into Ferguson

ATLANTA (WXIA) -- Georgia Congressman John Lewis says President Barack Obama should send the National Guard into Ferguson, Missouri.

Police have clashed with protesters in Ferguson after an officer shot and killed an unarmed man 18-year-old man on Saturday night.

"I would love for this president to speak out of his gut, and then take action by federalizing the Missouri National Guard, and putting this city of Ferguson under martial law," Lewis told 11Alive's Karyn Greer. "Take the steps that President Kennedy in May of 1961 so ordinary citizens will be able to protest in an orderly, non-violent fashion."

RELATED | Obama appeals for calm in Missouri, lauds Iraq progress

MORE | MLK III, DeKalb police chief comment on situation in Ferguson

TIMELINE | Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, Mo.

On Thursday, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon promised a "different tone" and an "operational shift" by police on the protest-wracked streets of Ferguson but stopped short of confirming that St. Louis County officers would be pulled out.

GALLERY: Police, protesters clash in Ferguson, MO.:

Lewis urged President Obama to make a strong statement.

"This president should say to the American people that we cannot continue to see young men of color murdered by police officers," Lewis said.

Lewis said that the situation in Ferguson reminded him of "the dark past."

"The fires of frustration and discontent burned in the 60s," he said. "We cannot have a repeat of this. We have to stop it and stop it now."


The city of Ferguson has three African-American police officers in a force of 55. They represent a community that is nearly 70 African-American.

"It is shameful. It is a disgrace. It is unreal, unbelievable," Lewis said. "How can you have peace and order in the city where the authorities that are supposed to enforce the law fail to represent the majority of the people, or look like the people they're supposed to be protected?"

Lewis said that the police officer involved in the shooting should be identified. He said he disagrees with the way the case has been handled.

"I do not like seeing police officers dressed like individuals going into a war zone," Lewis said. "You're only provoking -- you're only making a bad situation worse. I didn't like hearing an officer of the law, a police officer referring to the protesters as animals."

Noting that two reporters have been arrested covering the Ferguson situation, Lewis said that the Freedom Riders weren't attacked first in 1961 in Montgomery, Ala. He said the journalists were attacked first.

"People didn't want the photographers, the reporters to be around," Lewis said. "They didn't want the story to get out. But in our country, we have freedom of the press. Let the young men women do their job, tell their story."

Lewis said that officers across the nation should study non-violent methods.

"In places like Atlanta, DeKalb County, you have community relations, you have training," Lewis said. "Even in a city like St. Louis, in the past, there have been police officers, they've come to the King Center...and study the way of non-violence."

See the interview tonight at on 11Alive news at 6 and 7!


To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment