Malik Shabazz: 'These Young Men Have No Fathers'

By Susan Jones | August 20, 2014 | 9:37 AM EDT

Protesters in Ferguson on Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014. (AP Photo)

( - Malik Shabazz, the president of Black Lawyers for Justice, says he went to the troubled city of Ferguson "as a man and a father figure" because he and other men need to "step in" and fill a leadership gap.

Shabazz told CNN that the protesters, many of them young men, "are not just upset about Michael Brown. These young men have no fathers. These young men -- there's a social decay here. There's a police brutality issue around the country...It's a big problem."

Shabazz, the former head of the New Black Panther Party, said Ferguson needs authority figures to help stem the simmering anger over the shooting of a black teenager by a white police officer. Some of the anger is being stoked by "outside infiltrators," but the problems go beyond that, he said:

"[T]here is a problem with the racial hierarchy here, where there's all white police force, there is, again, black youth who are hopeless, in despair. Some of them really don't care.

So, when you mix the outside infiltrators with those here like the youth that are on the street at 1:00, when all the peaceful demonstrators have gone, and they want to remain out there, where are their fathers? Where are their parents? Where are the men here in this town?

"And so, there's hopelessness, despair, a lack of black men who will step in to fill the gap. This is a real problem, that it starts with Michael Brown but it goes well beyond it."

Shabazz said he's tried to enlist the Nation of Islam and black church leaders from around the country to help him prevent the ongoing protests from "going negative."

He also said the arrest of Officer Darren Wilson would "bring some resolution."

"You know, everyone's crying, 'No justice, no peace.' They would like to see some justice."

It shouldn't take this long to establish the probable cause that is necessary for Wilson's arrest, he said: "Doesn't take long to establish it for us. Why does it take so long for him?"

Shabazz said it appears right now that Wilson may not be charged at all -- and "it's leaving people in the air with the sense that nothing might be done."

He appeared on CNN's "New Day" program on Tuesday morning.