Rep. John Lewis On Ferguson: 'Declare Martial Law'

08/14/2014 01:52 pm ET | Updated Aug 14, 2014

Civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) called on President Barack Obama to declare martial law in Ferguson, Missouri, where police and protesters have clashed after a police officer shot and killed unarmed black teenager Michael Brown on Saturday.

"It is very sad and unbelievable. It's unreal to see what the police is doing there," Lewis said in a Thursday interview with MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell. "First of all, Ferguson, Missouri, is part of the United States of America. People have a right to protest. They have a right to dissent. They have a right to march in an orderly, peaceful, nonviolent fashion. And the press has a right to cover it."

Lewis, whose skull was fractured by police during the 1965 march over the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, told Mitchell that the situation in Ferguson reminds him of "the '40s, the '50s, the '60s," pointing to the dearth of black officers on the St. Louis suburb's police force.

"So my own feeling, right now, is that President Obama should use the authority of his office to declare martial law. Federalize the Missouri National Guard to protect people as they protest," Lewis said. "And people should come together. Reasonable elected officials, community leaders and address what is happening there."

He continued: "If we fail to act, the fires of frustration and discontent will continue to burn, not only in Ferguson, Missouri, but all across America."

Read updates on the situation in Ferguson below:

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