As tensions rise in Missouri, Kentucky politicians speak out on unrest

08/14/2014 04:53 PM

A clash between residents of a Missouri community and police officers following the death of an 18-year-old boy has Kentucky lawmakers talking about the problem with the militarization of police forces.

Police officers are using an amount of force that some are finding questionable against demonstrators of a community outside St. Louis after Michael Brown, a young resident of Ferguson, Missouri, was fatally shot by a police officer.

In an op-ed on the issue on TIME Magazine’s website, Kentucky U.S. Senator Rand Paul said Thursday that the unrest in the area is understandable and that there were bigger problems at play.

In his opinion piece, Paul expressed some of the same sentiments as President Barack Obama who said the unrest is not an excuse for “rioting or looting” but that police also can not use excessive force against peaceful protests.

Paul said an overreaching government and major problems in the criminal justice system are playing a big role in the current events in Ferguson.

In the Time op-ed, Paul writes:

Anyone who thinks that race does not still, even if inadvertently, skew the application of criminal justice in this country is just not paying close enough attention. Our prisons are full of black and brown men and women who are serving inappropriately long and harsh sentences for non-violent mistakes in their youth.

The militarization of our law enforcement is due to an unprecedented expansion of government power in this realm. It is one thing for federal officials to work in conjunction with local authorities to reduce or solve crime. It is quite another for them to subsidize it.

Americans must never sacrifice their liberty for an illusive and dangerous, or false, security. This has been a cause I have championed for years, and one that is at a near-crisis point in our country.

Kentucky Congressman John Yarmuth, D-Louisville, also expressed a problem with the militarization of police forces in a statement to WFPL on Thursday.

“The citizens of Ferguson deserve answers from police, not a military-style offensive,” Yarmuth said. “The police tactics against protestors are appalling and antithetical to American values, whatever the investigation of Michael Brown’s killing ultimately reveals.”

In Louisville, local officials are watching the situation in Ferguson carefully after mob violence broke out in the city in March.

When asked by Pure Politics Thursday, Mayor Fischer said the police forces in the city are prepared for a multitude of potential problems.

“We are certainly aware of what is going on in St. Louis and we have contingency plans in the community all the time for any event,” Fischer said.

About Pure Politics

Pure Politics airs Monday through Friday at 7 p.m. ET and again at 11:30 p.m. ET in all of cn|2's Kentucky markets. The program features political analysis and news, as well as interviews with officials, candidates, policy makers and political observers.

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