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Letter To Attorney General Urges Completion Of Federal Investigation In Ferguson

Attorney General Eric Holder visited Ferguson Aug. 20.
Office of U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay

The message to U.S. Attorney Eric Holder from Ferguson: hurry up.

In an open letter to Holder sent late last month, several Ferguson business owners, residents and even the mayor urged Holder to quickly release findings from his office’s federal investigation into Michael Brown’s death.

Holder announced a federal civil rights investigation only a few days after Brown’s shooting death by then Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. In August, 40 FBI agents and some prosecutors from the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights were on the ground in Ferguson interviewing witnesses. Holder’s office also ordered an independent autopsy of Brown.

Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III and about a dozen others ask in the letter that the Attorney General quickly complete the investigation and release the information:

"Our community has suffered greatly over the past months. We are great people who remain committed to this community’s future. The unfortunate fact is, however, that despite all that has transpired since August 9, 2014, we cannot truly and fully embrace the rebuilding process – both emotionally and physically – without the closure that will come from the completion of your investigation. The delay of your report leaves this community feeling confused, fearful, anxious, angry and conflicted."

Attorney Jay Kanzler represents several business owners affected by the violence that broke out in Ferguson in August and again after the grand jury’s decision in November. He said many of them don’t feel like they can take the plywood off their windows until the federal investigation is completed.

"So long as Attorney General Holder’s investigation remains open none of the businesses are necessarily comfortable that the violence, that the protests, that the rioting might not start up again once that decision is handed down," he said.

While there is fear of what could happen following the release of that information, Kanzler said the letter is not asking for a particular decision. He said they just want closure "so these businesses can take down the boards, move on, and get on with the business of rebuilding and healing."

The letter was sent December 23, but Kanzler said they have not yet received any communication from the attorney general’s office.

In addition to the federal investigation into Brown's shooting, the Justice Department launched a civil rights investigation into the Ferguson Police Department in September.

The attorney general's office did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Follow Maria on Twitter: @radioaltman

Maria is the newscast, business and education editor for St. Louis Public Radio.