Rep. John Lewis: Ferguson Is a Part of the US - It's Not China

By Melanie Arter | August 18, 2014 | 7:14 PM EDT

Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) AP Photo

( - Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), in an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday, said watching news footage of the protests in Ferguson, Mo., reminded him of "Baghdad or some other war-torn zone."

"When I was watching the film footage coming out of Ferguson, it looked like it was in Baghdad or some other war-torn zone. Ferguson is a part of the United States of America. It's not China. It's not Russia. It's not the Congo. It's America. People have a right to protest. People have a right to engage in peaceful, nonviolent action. And the press have a right to cover what is going on," said Lewis.


As previously reported, a news crew captured footage of police releasing tear gas and firing rubber bullets in the direction of an Al Jazeera America news crews last week.

“And here in the United States of America, police should not be bullying or arresting journalists who are just trying to do their jobs and report to the American people on what they see on the ground,” President Barack said in a press conference at Martha's Vineyard.

Lewis called it "shameful" that the police force in Ferguson - a predominantly African American city - has only three black officers.

"We have to get police officers, locally elected officials to respect the dignity and the words of every human being. It's a shame and a disgrace that in a city that is almost 70% African American to have only three African American police officers. Ferguson is not in the American South,"  he said.

"But we're doing much better in the small towns and cities in Georgia and Alabama and Mississippi. This is shameful. This is a disgrace. We must teach people the way of peace, the way of love, the way of nonviolence. But we cannot have peace and order without justice," he added.

Lewis said the mayor of Ferguson and local officials have a "moral obligation and responsibility to literally apologize to the community."

"And the city mothers or city fathers should come together in a fashion, reach out to the African American community and say, 'We're going to work together for the common good.' And say, 'We all live in this city together and we've got to learn to live together as brothers and sisters' as Dr. King would say, 'Or we're going to perish as fools,'" Lewis added.