- The Washington Times - Friday, October 10, 2014

Sen. Rand Paul became the first of the potential 2016 presidential candidates to visit Ferguson, Missouri, meeting with community civil rights leaders Friday.

“I wanted to find out what we could do to make the situation better,” the Kentucky Republican said in statement Friday.

Ferguson fostered a heated national discussion this summer when a white police officer shot and killed a black teenager, and police responded to community protests with substantial force. Mr. Paul was one of the first lawmakers on Capitol Hill to criticize what he said was over-militarization of the local police.

In his meeting Friday, Mr. Paul called for reducing mandatory minimum criminal sentences for nonviolent offenders, saying that cutting costs of incarceration could provide more money to be used for job training in urban communities.

“They are also frustrated that things aren’t happening fast enough,” Mr. Paul told Time magazine after the meeting, which was organized by the NAACP.

Mr. Paul made the trip to Ferguson just days after police shot another young black man, who allegedly fired a stolen handgun at an officer.

Protesters are set to rally again this weekend to keep national attention on the issue.

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