John Lewis predicts a ‘miscarriage of justice’ in Ferguson would cause ‘massive, non-violent’ protests

U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Atlanta, at this summer’s opening of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta. Bob Andres, bandres@ajc.com

U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Atlanta, at this summer’s opening of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta. Bob Andres, bandres@ajc.com

U.S. Rep. John Lewis on Tuesday predicted “massive, non-violent protests” all over the country if there is a “miscarriage of justice” in the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.

Missouri has declared a pre-emptive state of emergency in advance of a grand jury’s decision on whether to indict Officer Darren Wilson — which could reignite the turmoil there.

Your daily jolt on politics from the AJC's Political insider blogIn an interview with Roland Martin’s radio program, “News One Now,” Lewis compared Ferguson to the 1965 voting rights protests in Selma, Ala., where Lewis and others were brutally beaten by police:

“I think what is happening is moving to that point, where there will be the same feeling and climate and environment that we had in Selma. Selma was the turning point. And I think what happened in Ferguson will be the turning point.

“I think people are waiting, they’re watching, and we’re gonna see within the next few days what happens — and there could be massive, nonviolent protests all over America.

“When we were beaten on that bridge in Selma, the people couldn’t take it, when they saw it, when they heard about it, when they read about it. There was a sense of righteous indignation. And if we see a miscarriage of justice in Ferguson, we’re going to have the same reaction that people had towards Selma.”

Lewis also offered advice to the protesters:

“Be like a pilot light and not like a firecracker. You know a firecracker just pop off and it’s gone. A pilot light will continue to burn. There will be some setbacks. There will be some disappointments. There will be some interruptions. But you must never ever give up and hold onto the philosophy and discipline of nonviolence and try to protest in a peaceful, orderly fashion and appeal to the better angels in all of us.”

Lewis will receive the latest in a long line of accolades today. The U.S. Capitol Historical Society has named him this year’s recipient of the Freedom Award. Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., who has traveled with Lewis to Selma, will be in attendance, along with Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

Past recipients of the Freedom Award include Sen. George McGovern, Sen. Bob Dole, documentarian Ken Burns and journalist Cokie Roberts.

This item has been updated to reflect that Lewis did not specifically link a potential lack of charges for Wilson to protests.

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U.S. Rep. Tom Price, R-Roswell, was officially named chairman of the Budget Committee on Tuesday. It was a long-expected move, as Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., slides over to the Ways and Means Committee.

Congress guru Jamie Dupree at WSB-Radio did some digging and found that Price ended a long drought for Georgians chairing U.S. House committees.

John Flynt chaired the Ethics Committee for two terms in the 1970s, but aside from him you would have to go back to the 1960s and Carl Vinson — the legendary House Armed Services Committee chairman — to find a Georgian in charge of a full committee.

Dupree points out this is something of an oddity given that a Georgian, Newt Gingrich, was Speaker of the House in the 1990s, and Georgians such as Sam Nunn, Herman Talmadge and Richard Russell commanded serious power in the Senate for decades.

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Price is showing his clout on fiscal issues by throwing his support behind a proposal, as reported by David Drucker in the Washington Examiner, to fight back against an expected executive action on immigration from President Barack Obama without threatening a full government shutdown.

Price would pass an “omnibus” bill to fund the government through September, but only fund the Department of Homeland Security into February or March — giving the Republican Congress an opportunity to defund whatever program Obama comes up with and make the standoff only about one agency.

Approached off the House floor, Price said “I’m going to pass, for now” when asked about the plan. Across the Capitol, outgoing Sen. Saxby Chambliss said “that may make a lot of sense” when asked about the Price plan.

U.S. Rep. Austin Scott, R-Tifton, said the GOP caucus remains torn on a path forward as they wait for final word on what, exactly, Obama is going to do.

“I go back and forth on whether or not we should do something long term or whether or not we should do something short term. … 

“Certainly the reasons to do long term language would be that we can put limiting language in the appropriations measures that stops money from being spent on things we don’t want to spend it on.

“The reason for a short term measure would be obviously so you can come in and deal with authorizing legislation [to block the immigration action] again — an actual piece of authorizing legislation — and then you can turn around and do an appropriations measure for a few months that reflects what that authorizing measure actually was.”

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In a move clearly intended to signal the futility of a floor fight on the first day of next year’s session of the General Assembly, Minority Leader Steve Henson, D-Tucker, on Tuesday declared he would second the nomination of David Shafer, R-Duluth, for re-election as Senate president pro tem. From the press release:

“I congratulate Sen. David Shafer on his re-nomination as President Pro Tempore. Sen. Shafer has always had an open door for the Minority Caucus and is willing to work fairly with us to address the concerns of the people we represent. I will be proud to second his nomination and fully expect Senate Democrats to support his re-election to the position of Pro Tempore.”

After a tied first vote, Shafer won the support of Senate Republicans in a closed meeting on Monday, beating Butch Miller, R-Gainesville.

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Walter Jones of Morris News Service has a line on what looks like next year’s most popular piece of legislation:

Nurses, doctors, emergency medical technicians and other health care workers get punched, bit and slammed into walls while doing their jobs, and a legislative panel is considering whether to increase penalties in order to protect them.

The attacks come from patients, their family and even gangs seeking revenge, according to testimony various witnesses gave Tuesday to a House-Senate committee conducting a study on violence against healthcare workers. Trade associations for hospitals and nurses requested the legislative inquiry.

 


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