Rep. John Lewis: Ferguson Grand Jury Decision Could Ignite Nationwide Protests

Rep. John Lewis says people will react if there's a miscarriage of justice.

Georgia Rep. John Lewis believes that there could be massive protests across the nation if a grand jury doesn't indict police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown. In a NewsOne interview with radio host Roland Martin, Lewis also said that Ferguson is as much a "turning point" for the modern civil rights movement as the voting rights march in Selma was in 1965.

"When we were beaten on that bridge in Selma, people couldn't take it. When they saw it, they heard about it, they read about it, there was a sense of righteous indignation," the lawmaker said. "And if we see a miscarriage of justice in Ferguson, we're going to have the same reaction that people had toward Selma."

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon on Monday activated the National Guard and declared a state of emergency in anticipation of the decision. Activists are also fearing the worst and preparing to engage in nonviolent protest.

Lewis, who is a revered civil rights icon, urged protesters to demonstrate peacefully and orderly and "pace themselves for the long haul."

"Be like a pilot light and not like a firecracker. A firecracker just pops off and it's gone," he advised. "A pilot light will continue to burn."

There will be some setbacks and disappointments, Lewis warned, but "you must never, ever give up."

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(Photo: Paul Marotta/Getty Images)

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