U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder met with community members in Ferguson, Missouri, at at the Florissant Valley Campus of St. Louis Community College on Wednesday, Politico reported. Holder promised there were would be a civil rights investigation into the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, the unarmed teen who was fatally shot by police officer Darren Wilson. Holder, who is the first African-American head of the Justice Department, opened up to the community that has been rocked since Brown's death.
As a black man, Holder said he understands the Ferguson community’s wariness about law enforcement.
“I understand that mistrust. I am the attorney general of the United States. But I am also a black man.”
He recalled being stopped in New Jersey and having his car searched. “I remember how humiliating that was and how angry I was and the impact it had on me.”
On another occasion, Holder and a cousin were stopped by cops in Washington, D.C. “I’m like, ‘This is not where we want to go. Keep quiet.’ I’m angry and upset. We negotiate the whole thing and we walk to our movie.” He added: “At the time that he stopped me, I was a federal prosecutor. I wasn’t a kid. I was a federal prosecutor. I worked at the United States Department of Justice. So I’ve confronted this myself.”
“We are starting here a good dialogue," he said. "But the reality is the dialogue is not enough. We need concrete action to change things in this country.”
He promised change: “We can make it better.”
Despite Holder's statements emphasizing solidarity, residents still out walking on W. Florissant Ave. didn't seem impressed.
"I don't know what the government is doing but I don't see any results," said James Davis, who lives in the nearby town of Florissant.
"They come on TV and talk, but people are still clashing every night," he said.
As he was speaking, a police officer came up and, almost apologetically, asked him to keep moving, as police have still decreed people can't stand still.
"Does this look like people have a right to protest?" Davis said.
Kathleen Caulderwood contributed to this report.
Follow me on Twitter @mariamzzarella