He said the Justice Department is pushing ahead with a possible federal criminal prosecution in the slaying of 18-year-old Michael Brown, saying it would be "thorough and fair," but cautioning that the review would "take time to conduct."
Though Holder did not discuss the substance of the witness interviews, his statement was a sharp departure from the silence of local officials who have refused to discuss any aspect of their investigation, declining to name the officer who fired the fatal shots.
Holder also took aim at the images of heavily armed police officers using riot gear and military-style weapons against protesters.
"At my direction, [Justice] Department officials have conveyed these concerns to local authorities."
Holder said the Justice Department has offered technical assistance to local officials "to help conduct crowd control and maintain public safety without relying on unnecessarily extreme displays of force." He said local authorities in Missouri accepted the offer.
Holder also condemned looters and rioters. "While the vast majority of protests have been peaceful, acts of violence by members of the public cannot be condoned," he said.
He criticized "willful efforts to antagonize law enforcement officers," saying "such conduct is unacceptable."
Further, Holder said members of the department's Community Relations Service have been dispatched to Ferguson to meet with city, religious and neighborhood officials. Their aim, Holder said, is "to plot out steps to reduce tensions in the community."
“We need to demilitarize the situation,” said Sen.
Others suggested stronger measures to quell the violence. Rep.
The uproar in Ferguson, Lewis said, “is a good time” to consider the words of Dr.