BALTIMORE, Md. (CBSDC/AP) — Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan told African-Americans that it’s time to die for a cause, while referencing Ferguson.
Farrakhan warned of retaliation two days before a grand jury decided not to indict Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown.
“The young – they are God’s children and they are not going down being peaceful. Watch now, because once it starts, it’s on,” Farrakhan told a crowd at Morgan State University in Baltimore. “You may not want to fight, but you better get ready. Teach your baby how to throw the bottle if they can.”
The Nation of Islam leader stated that we are going to “tear this God damn country up.”
“We gonna die. Let’s die for something,” he told the audience. “See, now when my Muslim family here, Imams and my Christian family – in this book, there is a law for retaliation. The Bible says an eye, a tooth, a life. See now, as long as they kill us, and go to Wendy’s and have a burger and go to sleep, they gonna keep killing us. But when we die and they die, then soon we gonna sit down at a table and talk about – we tired. We want some of this earth. We tear this God damn country up.”
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Farrakhan’s words came before last week’s violent protests where dozens of buildings and businesses were looted and burned in Ferguson following the grand jury decision. Hundreds of protesters were arrested around the country.
Wilson resigned from the Ferguson Police Department over the weekend. He served less than three years and did not receive a severance package.
Wilson wrote in his resignation letter that his “continued employment may put the residents and police officers of the City of Ferguson at risk, which is a circumstance I cannot allow.”
His lawyer, Neil Bruntrager, told The Associated Press that Wilson decided to step aside after police Chief Tom Jackson told him about the alleged threats on Saturday.
“The information we had was that there would be actions targeting the Ferguson (police) department or buildings in Ferguson related to the police department,” Bruntrager said. He said Wilson, who had worked for the department for less than three years, and the city were already discussing an exit strategy, acknowledging that Wilson staying on as an officer there would be impossible.
Many have criticized the authorities’ handling of the case, but Knowles said no leadership changes were in the works. Asked if he would resign, Jackson said flatly, “No.”
Benjamin Crump, an attorney for Brown’s family, said Wilson’s resignation was not a surprise.
“It was always believed that the police officer would do what was in his best interest, both personally and professionally,” Crump said. “We didn’t believe that he would be able to be effective for the Ferguson community nor the Ferguson Police Department because of the tragic circumstances that claimed the life of Michael Brown Jr.”
Wilson has spent his career as a police officer, first in neighboring Jennings, then in Ferguson. Bruntrager said it’s all he’s ever wanted to do.
“In terms of what it (the resignation) means, it means at this point he doesn’t have a paycheck,” Bruntrager said. “He has no income so he’ll have to make some decisions pretty quickly.”
Wilson fatally shot Brown in the middle of a Ferguson street after the two scuffled inside Wilson’s police SUV. Brown’s body was left for more than four hours as police investigated and angry onlookers gathered.
Some witnesses have said Brown had his hands up when Wilson shot him. Wilson told the grand jury that he feared for his life when Brown hit him and reached for his gun.
The U.S. Justice Department is conducting a civil rights investigation into the shooting and a separate investigation of police department practices. It isn’t clear when those results will be announced.
The White House said President Barack Obama will hold meetings on the Ferguson situation Monday. A Cabinet meeting will focus on his administration’s review of federal programs that provide military-style equipment to law enforcement agencies. Meetings with civil rights leaders, law enforcement officials and others will focus on ways to build trust and strengthen communities.
After the grand jury’s decision was announced, 12 commercial buildings in Ferguson were destroyed by fire. There have been well over 100 arrests at St. Louis-area protests in that time.
Knowles said there hasn’t been a cost assessment of the damage in Ferguson yet, and he promised residents and businesses that the city will do all it can to seek financial help.
“We are committed to rebuilding our city,” he said.
(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)