Memphis Rep. Steve Cohen has signed on to a letter issued Thursday demanding a hearing on the use of force by local law enforcement officials during the protests in Ferguson, Mo.
Cohen, and Reps. John Conyers and Robert Scott issued the letter to Rep. Bob Goodlatte, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, after Ferguson police broke up a protest Wednesday night with "brutal force: confronting demonstrators in riot gear and armored vehicles, arresting journalists, and firing tear gas and rubber bullets into the crowd."
Riots have calmed in Ferguson since Wednesday's show of force. Security of the protest has been handed over to state police who shed the riot gear and walked with protestors. Still, Cohen and the others want an investigation into the previous events "as soon as possible."
"These incidents raise concerns that local law enforcement is out of control and, instead of protecting the safety and civil liberties of the residents of Ferguson, is employing tactics that violate the rights of the citizens and hinder the ability to of the press to report on their actions," the letter reads. "This situation requires immediate congressional scrutiny."
The Congressmen also want to discuss "what appears to be a pattern of the use of deadly force by police against unarmed African Americans in cities around the nation." Also, the Congressmen want to look at the arrest of two journalists - Wesley Lowery of The Washington Post and Ryan J. Reilly of The Huffington Post.
Finally, Cohen and the others said they want address the "extensive militarization of state and local police."
"In Ferguson, why do local police dress in military-style uniforms and body armor, carry short-barreled 5.56-mm rifles based on the M4 carbine, and patrol neighborhoods in massive armored vehicles?" the letter reads. "In all likelihood, the decision to adopt a military posture only served to aggravate an already tense situation and to commit the police to a military response."