Political leaders have begun weighing in on the unrest in Ferguson, Mo., following the shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a white police officer. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a former federal prosecutor, joined in on Tuesday with a statement warning against jumping to conclusions about events that led to the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown.
“I just don’t believe we should drawing any generalizations or conclusions yet from what we know after just about ten days of this,” Christie noted in the statement.He advised giving the justice system time to address the situation “before we make any kind of broad judgments.”
The governor also had sharp words for media coverage of protests in Ferguson. “There will be plenty of time for us to examine this and to learn lessons from Ferguson as all the facts come out, not just when the TV anchor people are sitting there making a spectacle of this,” he said.
Christie’s statement came after a New Jersey Public Radio interview on Monday in which Christie declined commenting on the situation. In response to a question about the protests following the killing of Michael Brown and if there was a problem with the way police deal with young African men and teenagers, the potential 2016 presidential candidate told NJPR, “I’m not going to get into this business of generalizing against law enforcement officers. It’s not right.”
In Tuesday’s statement, Christie reiterated that police officers should be given the benefit of the doubt. “I’m really concerned about the generalizations that we’re then making about police officers,” he said. “The fact is, that the overwhelming majority of police officers in this country are hardworking men and women who put their lives on the line every day to protect us from bad people, violent people, people who mean ill to us.”
His comments came on the heels of Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, who said the police response in Ferguson, which has included firing tear gas and rubber pellets, was troubling. Paul, also considered a 2016 candidate, said in an opinion piece for TIME that the action resembled a “war more than a traditional police action.”
Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas called the situation “tragic” and condemned police for targeting journalists who were “simply doing their jobs.”
President Obama has said there is “no excuse” for police to use excessive force against peacefully assembled demonstrators.
On political figure has yet to make any comment on the developing situation in Ferguson: Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton has also not addressed the escalating violence.