| "I spoke to them not just as attorney general but as a father of a teenage son. "
It was with the words that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder started a meeting at a restaurant on Wednesday morning (local time) with community leaders in Ferguson, Missouri, which was hit by an unrest following police killing of black teenager Michael Brown earlier this month.
Saying that some of the most experienced federal investigators and prosecutors are investigating the case, he asked the community leaders to cooperation in soothing the public resentment. Unlike the state government, which put pressure on demonstrators by mobilizing National Guard troops, his attitude seemed to open up the locals` minds. Some asked for a handshake with him, saying they would believe him.
Then, Holder met with black students holding demonstration and the victim`s bereaved family, creating a bond of sympathy. "I am the attorney general of the United States. But I am also a black man," he told the students, adding he was taking the incident as his own. Amid the crisis in Ferguson where no breakthrough had been in sight, the U.S. top law enforcement official`s sincere communication has won more-than-expected public sympathy.
The crisis, which showed signs of escalating to black riots comparable to the 1992 Los Angeles riots, seems to be abating following Holder`s visit. Missouri Governor Jay Nixon said Thursday that he would withdraw National Guard troops mobilized four days ago. Protesters took to the streets on early Friday but their confrontation with the police was less intense than on the previous day.
Americans who were skeptical about Holder`s trip have been surprised by the visit and the effects of his communication. Lesley McSpadden, the victim`s mother, told CNN that Holder`s visit made a difference.
Some critics say that Holder`s remarks were too emotional and would, over time, end up being a political performance. However, he hold another news conference on Thursday, saying that the Department of Justice would be with Ferguson even if the incident is forgotten.
The incident is a reminder of the common sense that the harder a political conundrum is, the more the government and politicians should consider the issue their own and engage in communicating with those involved in order to make a breakthrough.