Ferguson protesters clashed with police Thursday evening after Ferguson police chief Tom Jackson – a man many have been calling for to resign – attempted to march with protesters. Incredibly, it appears that the commotion erupted after some of the demonstrators tripped, causing nearby police to rush into the crowd.
Writes Fox2Now out of St. Louis: “Ferguson Chief of Police Tom Jackson marched with about 60 protesters as they chanted outside the Ferguson police station Thursday night. Several feet away from the chief there was a lot of movement that sparked some action by police. At this point, we believe that a few people simply tripped and fell while marching, based on what a FOX 2 reporter saw. But police officers did rush in to protect the chief.”
A frustrated Jackson had addressed a crowd of people gathered outside the Ferguson police station. Hours earlier, Jackson released this video apology, directed to the family of slain teenager Michael Brown, in which he expressed regret for, among other things, the fact that 18-year-old Brown’s body was left in the street for a reported four hours after he was shot by officer Darren Wilson.
I want to say this to the Brown family: No one who has not experienced the loss of a child can understand what you’re feeling. I’m truly sorry for the loss of your son. I’m also sorry that it took so long to remove Michael from the street. The time that it took involved very important work on the part of investigators who were trying to collect evidence and gain a true picture of what happened that day. But it was just too long, and I’m truly sorry for that.
Drawing on a distinction between rioters and looters, Jackson apologized to “any peaceful protester” who felt he did not “do enough to protect their constitutional right” to assemble. Jackson said he’s “also aware of the pain and feeling of mistrust felt by some in the African American community and the police department,” saying that the “city belongs to all of us and we’re all part of this community. It’s clear we have much work to do.”
Jackson appeared later that day to the group outside of the police station, again attempting to placate the crowd and appearing flustered that his outreach efforts were not having any effect.
“We’ve got to increase training and awareness. We’ve got to get out in the community, we’ve got to change the court system and the ticketing system,” Jackson said. “No I’m serious, this is what’s causing the mistrust, right?”
After asking the crowd what else he could do, some shouted that he should march with them. Jackson agreed, taking up position at the head of a group of about 60 demonstrators.
He made it approximately 10 yards before helmet-wearing riot police, carrying shields and batons, rushed into the crowd after they perceived Jackson may have been in trouble. In the end, four people were arrested.
The kerfuffle has done little to bridge the widening gulch of distrust that exists between the Ferguson community and the police force.