A tense standoff between protesters and local law enforcement occurred late Thursday evening in Ferguson after the town’s police chief Tom Jackson showed up at the scene and spoke to the crowd. Roughly 100 demonstrators gathered in downtown Ferguson around 8 PM local time in response to Jackson’s video apology to Michael Brown’s family and subsequent interview with CNN. Jackson released a video Thursday afternoon telling the parents of Brown, who was shot to death August 9th by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, that he was sorry for the fact that Brown’s dead body remained on the scene for over four hours. He also apologized for the way his police department mishandled the protests in the immediate aftermath of the shooting.
Below is the video from Jackson:
After releasing the video, Jackson did an interview with CNN. During the interview, Jackson told the network that he had no plans on resigning because he “wanted to take ownership” of the situation in Ferguson. He also claimed that some people who have called for his resignation have changed their minds after speaking to him at length.
“I’ve talked to a lot of people who have initially called for that and then changed their mind after having meetings and discussions about moving forward. Realistically, I’m going to stay here and see this through.”
Jackson also rejected the notion that his police department has engaged in any kind of racial profiling or disparate treatment of the town’s black residents. In fact, he doesn’t think that any police department knowingly engages in racial profiling.
“It’s never been the intention of the Ferguson police department — or any police department that I know — to intentionally target individuals because of race. If there is that happening, it’s a crime and it needs to be addressed.”
The video apology was seen as too little too late (Brown was killed over six weeks ago) by many in and around Ferguson and a way for Jackson to try to reverse the extremely high level 0f distrust that most in the community hold towards him. The attorney for Brown’s parents, Anthony Gray, said trust in the chief is now at an “irreversible low.” Gray also didn’t think Jackson’s apology would do any real good due to how long it took for it to happen.
“It is nearly impossible to measure any reach of his apology at this time. Most observers, I believe, are locked into their opinions about the handling of the shooting of this unarmed teen. Dynamite, much less an apology, will do little, in my opinion to move anyone off their opinions at this point.”
Thursday night, protesters let Jackson know that they weren’t buying what he was trying to sell earlier in the day and marched in the street in front of the police station calling for his resignation. Some brought signs that they attempted to hang on the outside of the station. As demonstrators blocked traffic and loudly chanted, Jackson unexpectedly appeared from the station. He spoke to the crowd in an apparent act of contrition. He said the Department of Justice, which is currently investigating the department for civil rights violations, told him that they need to change. After protesters, reporters and community leaders peppered the chief with questions and comments, Jackson was then asked by some in the crowd to march with them.
However, the attempt at an olive branch from Jackson to the protesters was extremely short-lived. Mere seconds after Jackson started marching with the demonstrators, a scuffle happened in the crowd surrounding him. Police grabbed a number of people and threw them to the ground while hustling the chief back inside the station. Police on the scene immediately claimed this happened because they saw someone trying to attack Jackson from within the crowd. However, video and photos clearly show that the police were the instigators in the melee.
A handful of protesters were arrested after the tussle. One of those arrested is a local independent journalist and cab driver known in the area as Umar Lee. Umar has been a very recognizable face and a constant presence since the protests began. He was able to tweet from inside a police van after being arrested.
I’m in a police van in the #ferguson pd parking lot. No idea why I was arrested, probably going to need bail money. — Umar Lee (@STLAbuBadu) September 26, 2014
A fellow protestor has my phone, using another phone — Umar Lee (@STLAbuBadu) September 26, 2014
On the move, probably going to st Ann. — Umar Lee (@STLAbuBadu) September 26, 2014
After the arrests had been made, more police showed up at the scene from other jurisdictions. At one point, there were at least 100 police officers, many decked out in riot gear, surrounding the area. Eventually, officers formed a line in front of the station. A helicopter flew overhead throughout the rest of the evening. Protest leaders spoke with officers and asked if those arrested could be released. They received conflicting answers over a period of time. They also asked a police captain on the scene why they some officers weren’t wearing nametags or badges. They weren’t given a direct answer.
A source of mine told me that she felt that the police, and specifically Jackson, intentionally incited the crowd on Thursday evening. She said that the Jackson came out and agreed to march with the crowd. Once he did, police charged and attacked. Per her account, women were beat by the police and people that the police had seen during previous protests (such as Umar) were targeted. She reiterated that nobody touched Jackson and that he was welcomed by the crowd to walk with them. The anger and disappointment she felt in how it all went down Thursday evening was palpable.
The calls for Jackson’s resignation are only going to grow louder after the events of Thursday night.
Justin Baragona is the Managing Editor at Politicus Sports as well as Senior Editor at PoliticusUSA. He was a political writer for 411Mania.com before joining PoliticusUSA. Politically, Justin considers himself a liberal but also a realist and pragmatist. Currently, Justin lives in St. Louis, MO and is married. Besides writing, he also runs his own business after spending a number of years in the corporate world. You can follow Justin on Twitter either with his personal handle (@justinbaragona) or the Sports site’s (@PoliticusSports).