Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) called on Obama to use executive authority and declare martial law in Ferguson, Mo., where protesters have clashed with police after the shooting of an unarmed black teenager.
“My own feeling is right now is President Obama should use the authority of his office to declare martial law,” Lewis said on MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports.” “Federalize that Missouri National Guard to protect people as they protest,”
“People have a right to protest. They have a right to dissent. They have a right to march in an orderly peaceful nonviolent fashion,” he said. “Ferguson, Mo., is not the Congo, not China, not Russia. We can do better.”
Ferguson Police Department is facing criticism after officers armed with military-grade weaponry cracked down on protesters. The police fired tear gas into crowds and also briefly arrested two reporters from the Huffington Post and Washington Post during the crackdown.
Looks more like peaceful looting…
Lewis said the police force operating there in military garb is only further inciting protests, and said the state’s National Guard should be ordered in to protect citizens.
Obama had no comment about sending in the National Guard troops, but he did speak with Gov. Nixon Thursday afternoon. Nixon said he plans to remove the local police force in hopes the tension subsides.
Lewis’s colleagues from the Congressional Black Caucus released an updated statement about the violence Thursday in which one lawmaker said the current police crackdown already amounted to martial law.
“A young, unarmed man was shot by a police officer. A small town is under what is essentially martial law. Tear gas and rubber bullets are being used against everyday citizens,” said Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.). Serious and sweeping civil rights violations may have taken place in Ferguson, Missouri.”
This is the ‘young, unarmed man’ Lewis is referring to.
WATCH: Congressman John Lewis spoke on MSNBC today about the chaos unfolding in Ferguson, Missouri, and told Andrea Mitchell that President Obama should declare martial law and federalize the National Guard to protect protesters.