In a conversation with St. Louis news station KSDK 5 on Friday evening, Ferguson police chief Tom Jackson told the station that Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson will be immediately reinstated to the active duty if he is not indicted by the St. Louis County grand jury in the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown. Jackson did say he isn’t sure if Wilson wants to return, but if a ‘no true bill’ comes back from the grand jury, the officer can return with no problem. Wilson has been on paid administrative leave since he shot and killed the unarmed Brown on August 9th. A decision is expected from the grand jury by the end of the month.
Below is video of KSDK’s segment:
This is yet another instance of Jackson making a statement to purposely incite tensions in the area over this situation. Almost immediately after Wilson killed Brown, every public move by Jackson has pretty much made things worse in and around Ferguson. Whether it was his decision (along with St. Louis County chief Jon Belmar) to send an outsized militarized police presence into the streets of Ferguson after protests first started, or his choice to release video of Brown committing a ‘strong-armed robbery’ when providing Wilson’s name to the public, everything Jackson has done has been a transparent attempt to protect Wilson and law enforcement while simultaneously enraging protesters and activists.
Jackson’s buffoonery has continued unabated. Prior to Friday night’s statement, and after his actions immediately following Brown’s death, Jackson has made other clumsy missteps that have infuriated Michael Brown supporters and the community as a whole. More than six weeks after Brown’s death, Jackson released a video apology to Brown’s parents. The apology was seen as an empty gesture that was immediately rejected. Shortly after the video’s release, Jackson stepped in it again by showing up unannounced at a demonstration outside the police station to make a rambling statement to protesters. He was then invited to march with protesters as a sign of solidarity. No more than five seconds after he started walking, police on the scene started a scuffle and made several arrests. Many protesters at the time felt that Jackson and police intentionally incited the crowd that night.
Since then, Jackson has been mostly unseen. However, despite his staying out of the way and being kept completely out of the loop regarding security in and around Ferguson in regards to any post-decision protests, he still refuses to step down. After CNN reported Jackson was going to be asked to resign in late October and the Ferguson police department would be folded into St. Louis County’s, Jackson responded that not only has he not been asked to step down by government officials, but he intends to stay on as long he is able. It has been suggested that local government officials may use Jackson as a sacrificial lamb if Wilson is not indicted, hoping his firing will quell any unrest. However, activists have stated that Jackson’s resignation or firing won’t help matters any if Wilson is not charged.
It seems obvious to pretty much everyone that Wilson will not and cannot serve as a Ferguson police officer ever again. Even if he is completely exonerated by the grand jury and no civil rights violations are brought up against him by the feds, it would be a complete and utter disaster if he was allowed to place his uniform back on and patrol the streets of Ferguson. In all likelihood, if he is not indicted, Wilson will make the personal decision to resign from the force. However, if he doesn’t, the Ferguson police department would be insane to bring him back.
You would think Jackson would know this and realize commenting to local media about the possibility of Wilson’s return would be unwise. A simple “no comment” should have been all that came from his lips. Instead, he decides to make a statement that Wilson would be welcomed back to the force and placed on active duty. This is a direct shot to protesters, organizers and the community. It seems as if he wants to rub salt in the wounds and see what happens. During a period of incredible tension in the St. Louis area, Jackson once again went out of his way to see how much worse he can make things.
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).