LONG BRANCH – As protests in Ferguson, MO, continue to rage this week over the shooting of an unarmed black teen by local police, Gov. Chris Christie today urged observers of the controversy to use discretion when forming judgments based on media reports and headlines, especially when it comes to making “generalizations” about law enforcement officers.
Christie first tried to distance himself from the events in Ferguson last week, but reiterated the sentiments at a town hall this afternoon.
“None of us quite know yet what happened in Ferguson, this young man who was killed,” Christie told a crowd of supporters at the Long Branch Amphitheater. “And I spent seven years in law enforcement, as the chief federal prosecutor, and what I learned during that time among other things is what you read in the newspapers and what you see on TV is almost always just a fraction of the story. I have been telling people to not prejudge anything from what happened here.”
Christie said justice-seeking protesters must defer to the country’s justice system to bring closure to the incident, which centers on the death of Michael Brown, and 18-year-old resident of the St. Louis suburb who was shot six times by a white police officer two weeks ago.
“Look, we have a really good justice system in this country,” Christie said. “Is it perfect, no , but it’s really good. And the fact is that there’s no better justice system in the world. And so first I say is let’s give the justice system an opportunity to play itself out before we rush to judgment.”
But protests in the racially-divided town have drawn the response of regional and local law enforcement groups, including, most recently, the National Guard, sent to Ferguson yesterday to quell ongoing violence there. That response has also been criticized by observers, specifically for the force used in dealing with the protests, which included tear gas and military-like weaponry.
Christie called for careful circumspection when projecting that image onto other aspects of law enforcement.
“And the second thing is I’m really concerned about the generalizations were then making about police officers,” he said. “And the fact is that the overwhelming majority of police officers out there are hard working men and women who put their lives on the line everyday to protect us from bad people, violent people. And so when something like this happens people not only jump to the conclusion of what happened in Ferguson, but also how that applies to every other police force across the country. There will be plenty of time for us to examine this, and to learn lessons from Ferguson as all the facts come in — not just when the TV anchors are out there making a spectacle of things.”