Ahead of an official announcement from Attorney General Eric Holder, which could take place as early as Thursday afternoon, civil rights groups are hailing the federal investigation as a major victory for those sharply questioning the circumstances surrounding the mid-August shooting and killing of teenager Michael Brown by a policeman in the St. Louis suburb.
"Our Ferguson-area community stood united in the face of injustice and brutal repression by police who were supposed to protect and serve us,” said Jamala Rogers, co-founder of the Organization For Black Struggle, who is also involved with HandsUpUnited, an activist group created in the wake of Brown’s shooting.
The groups cited a petition signed by nearly a million people they delivered to the White House last week calling on the Justice Department to open an investigation into the activities of the Ferguson police. The petition specifically called on the Justice Department to “fully investigate, prosecute, and fire all police officers” involved in Brown’s shooting and the police department’s response to it.
“When we take action together, we can make real change,” Rogers said.
ColorofChange.org, another group involved in collecting signatures for the petition, also praised Holder for opening the civil rights probe, but said much more needs to be done, including replacing St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch with an independent special prosecutor.
“We also demand a complete overhaul and reform of policing policies and practices nationwide and a commitment from the DOJ and President Obama to bring an end to racially-motivated police brutality plaguing black and brown communities and threatening the safety and human rights of black youth and adults on a daily basis," said Rashad Robinson, executive director of ColorOfChange.org.
The groups question whether McCulloch can be impartial, arguing that he has deep ties to police and has favored law enforcement in criminal cases.