Embattled Ferguson, Mo., Mayor James Knowles slammed Attorney General Eric Holder on Friday, saying he was frustrated and concerned about the Obama administration official’s “hostile language.”
After two police officers were ambushed in the streets of Ferguson this week, Holder came under fire for fanning the flames of discontent in the beleaguered city.
“We are prepared to use all the powers that we have, all the power that we have, to ensure that the situation changes there,” the attorney general said last week.
Holder was commenting on a Department of Justice report that accused the Ferguson Police Department of discriminating against black residents. The report also cleared Officer Darren Wilson in the August 2014 shooting death of unarmed black teen Michael Brown, but that finding has received little fanfare.
Holder added that dismantling the police department may be among the options.
Knowles told NPR Friday that Holder’s animosity is not shared by “bureaucrats at the DOJ — and I mean bureaucrats in that they’re lifelong, career DOJ officials.”
“There is a great sense of optimism from them, and from us, about working together,” he said. “At the same time, I turn on CNN and watch Eric Holder. That’s not the same language the DOJ uses with us. So I think that is frustrating, and concerning.”
Knowles questioned Holder’s authority to shut down the police department.
“My understanding is that he does not have the power to dismantle the Ferguson Police Department,” he said, adding that Holder could sue the city into submission. “That being said, I have been and continue to be open to having a dialogue and work together to find an agreeable solution for all of us. Unfortunately, there continues to be hostile language coming out of the Justice Department — or rather, from Eric Holder, specifically.”
The defiant mayor also said he will not submit to agitators’ demands that he resign.
“I get, on a daily basis, an enormous amount of support from residents of all backgrounds, ages and races,” he said. “So I have not seen any reason why I should step down.”
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