WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The use of combat military equipment by local law enforcement in Ferguson, Missouri heightened tensions during the summer protests against excessive use of force by police, US Attorney General Eric Holder said during a press conference.
“The deployment of at least some of that military hardware in Ferguson exacerbated what was a pretty difficult situation,” Holder said on Tuesday at a National Press Club press conference.
The attorney general acknowledged that the perception of a military response to civil unrest was a problem in Ferguson.
“If it looks like the military is in fact occupying American streets during civil disturbances, and that… is not a good thing for the American people or for the world necessarily to see,” Holder said.
While he could not envision tanks ever being useful on American streets, the attorney general said armoured personnel carriers could be practical if law enforcement officials receive proper training to use them.
The killing of an unarmed African-American by the police in Ferguson last summer sparked a series of protests in Missouri and around the United States. During the protests in Ferguson, police officers armed with military-grade equipment patrolled the streets to put down the largely peaceful protests, according to eyewitness accounts.
The US Department of Justice is overseeing an ongoing investigation into the events in Ferguson this past summer surrounding both the police killing of Michael Brown and the patterns of behaviour by the police department.