|Retired U.S. Army Gen. Russel Honoré|
Russel Honoré, the retired U.S. Army general known for his role in restoring order to New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and most recently for his involvement in the Green Army movement to stop environmental abuses of Louisiana, has now weighed in on the police response to protestors in Ferguson, Mo.
The protests in Ferguson are a response to the recent killing of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old who was killed by an unnamed police officer last week.
Police allege Brown was attempting to fight the officer, while witnesses claim he was running away when the officer fired the fatal shot.
The situation has quickly escalated, and despite a brief riot followed by a round of looting over the weekend, the rising tensions are mostly not the fault of the massive crowds of protestors and reporters, but rather, because of the response from an overly-militarized local law enforcement, as witnessed by its eager use of helicopters, armored vehicles (specifically designed as a “mine-resistant ambush protected vehicle”), tear gas, automatic rifles by a local officers decked out in camo, Kevlar vests and combat helmets as if ready to enter a war zone.
Weapons have been drawn on civilians, and tear gas, rubber bullets, noise-based weapons and flash bangs have all been used in various attempts to disperse crowds of demonstrators. Confrontations have been many, including several reports involving journalists, one whose head was smashed into a window by one of the policemen on Wednesday.
Honoré responded to the reaction by Ferguson police in a Thursday morning interview with CNN, repeating an order he once barked at several troops he spotted pointing guns at civilians shortly after their arrival in a flood-ravaged New Orleans amid the chaos and looting caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Honoré’s response both then and now: “Weapons down, damn it!”
Honoré went on to criticize the Ferguson PD, saying, “Any time we have policemen pointing weapons at American citizens, they need to go through retraining. And I think we are about 24 hours too late.”