Carey Wedler (TheAntiMedia)
September 25, 2014
FERGUSON, MO- On Thursday, the Ferguson Police Chief, Thomas Jackson, issued an apology to the parents of unarmed, murdered teenager, Michael Brown, as well as to peaceful protesters who endured the presence and abuse of riot police. Image credit: tumblr
“No one who has not experienced the loss of a child can understand what you’re feeling. I am truly sorry for the loss of your son. I’m also sorry that it took so long to remove Michael from the street.”
To protesters, he offered:
“The right of the people to peacefully assemble is what the police are here to protect. If anyone who was peacefully exercising that right is upset and angry, I feel responsible and I’m sorry.”
Jackson has received harsh criticism for his department’s handling of the situation in Ferguson. The officer who shot Brown, Darren Wilson, has not been charged with any crime and is on paid leave. In spite of offering his apology, Jackson has indicated he will not be stepping down. He further stated:
“Overnight I went from being a small-town police chief to being part of a conversation about racism, equality and the role of policing in that conversation. As chief of police, I want to be part of that conversation. I also want to be part of the solution.”
Jackson’s apology comes in stark contrast to statements made by the St. Louis County Chief of Police, Jon Belmar on Wednesday, where he acknowledged the controversy surrounding the use of tear gas and riot police, but ultimately defended the practices.
He acknowledged that Brown’s body should have been removed more expediently and that having police atop armored vehicles, pointing rifles at crowds was “provocative.” At best, he stated that the police could have “projected a better image.”
Belmar refused to apologize for the use of militarized police and tactics, stating:
“At the end of the day, we didn’t kill anyone because of our actions or seriously injure someone.”
Belmar claimed authorities instructed tactical units to stay away from protests until police experienced gun fire. He claimed they “responded to gunfire with tear gas” and said the “inconvenience” of the gas was better than “what could have happened.”
Unfortunately, Belmar completely ignored the reality that tear gas was used on peaceful protesters and journalists. Journalist Jake Tapper of CNN reported from the scene that in spite of police allegations of rowdy protesters, there was no reason for militarized police to be patrolling the streets of Ferguson, saying he saw no violence.
In his statement, Belmar also shared that he sought advice from Charles Ramsey, commissioner of the Philadelphia police, throughout the Ferguson ordeal. Not surprisingly, the Philadelphia police department has come under intense fire and federal investigation for corruption and misconduct.
While even the Ferguson police chief’s apology comes far too little and late for many, his attempt to smooth over relations with the community seems noble in comparison to what his higher up, Belmar, stated about the incidents in the St. Louis suburb this summer.
The inconsistency between police reactions and attitudes highlights the inability of police departments to police themselves or to facilitate an environment for peaceful protest without instilling fear of militarized reactions from law enforcement.
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