Ferguson Police Chief Joins Protest March, Which Doesn't Exactly Go Down Well
Proving that the uneasy situation is anything but resolved, protests broke out and arrests were made in Ferguson, Missouri late Thursday, only hours after Police Chief Thomas Jackson issued a public mea culpa. Residents felt the video apology was too little, too late — pretty much as soon as Jackson tried to join the protesters' march, clashes broke out, and arrests were made.
According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the unrest began when Jackson tried to take questions from the growing group of demonstrators and was met with aggression. One man shouted “If you are not resigning tonight, go home,” on a bullhorn. Hundreds of protesters then gathered to stride down the streets holding a "Racism Lives Here!" banner, but when the chief then tried to join in with the march at roughly 11 p.m., he was joined by protective riot police — this incited the crowd, causing several clashes to break out, and arrests to be made.
Said Ald. Antonio French., a St. Louis elected official, to NBC News:
I don’t think he was marching with the protesters more than 30 seconds before the riot cops came out into the crowd and tried to get themselves closer to him and protect him. Just them being out there pushing started stuff — it’s a complete misread of the situation. His very presence agitated the crowd.
Though it was quickly deemed an "unlawful assembly," the protest went on until the wee hours of the Friday morning, filling the small town with now all-too familiar scenes of police officers forming barricades and hundreds of protesters chanting for their rights. "No justice! No sleep!" the group reportedly shouted. One video of the night shows a cyclist being bashed and knocked down by a police officer's shield.
The irony of the police response to the demonstrations is too strong to miss. Only hours before, Jackson had publicly apologized to Ferguson residents, telling them that he hadn't done enough to “protect their constitutional right to protest” and that they would work together from now on. "All those things that are causing mistrust are being evaluated and we are going to be making changes," he told them, adding:
It’s an honor to serve the city of Ferguson and the people who live there. I look forward to working with you in the future to solve our problems.
Obviously, that work hasn't quite kicked off yet.