Protesters arrested after Ferguson police chief joins march: reports
Several protesters were arrested on Thursday night after police clashed with demonstrators at a rally in Ferguson, Missouri, where black teenager Michael Brown was shot to death by a white police officer last month, CNN and KMOV-TV reported.
A number of protesters were arrested after Ferguson police chief Tom Jackson began marching with a crowd of rally-goers and a scuffle broke out near him, the broadcasters, the stations reported.
Reuters could not independently verify the reports. Representatives of the Ferguson Police Department could not be immediately reached for comment.
The latest incident comes just hours after Jackson issued a video apology to the parents of Michael Brown, following weeks of heavy criticism and calls for his ouster.
“I want to say this to the Brown family. No one who has not experienced the loss of a child can understand what you are feeling,” Chief Jackson said in the video. “I am truly sorry for the loss of your son.”
Jackson spoke directly into a camera and read from a script in the video, released by a public relations firm hired by the city. He addressed Brown’s parents, as well as people whom he called “peaceful protesters.”
Brown, 18, was shot and killed by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9.
Ferguson, a mostly black community of 21,000, has seen weeks of racially charged protests and bursts of violence following Brown’s death. Many have called for Jackson to be fired for the way he has handled the aftermath of the killing.
In the video, Jackson also apologized for the treatment of protesters. He and other officials were sued last month for $40 million by a group alleging civil rights violations through arrests and police assaults with rubber bullets and tear gas.
“The right of the people to peacefully assemble is what the police are here to protect,” Jackson said. “If anyone who was peacefully exercising that right is upset and angry I feel responsible and I’m sorry.”
Brown and a friend had been walking down a street in a residential area when Wilson asked them to move out of the street. An altercation ensued. Wilson shot Brown several times and the teen died in the middle of the road.
Brown’s body lay on the pavement for several hours in the afternoon sun, a fact that fueled outrage in the community and nationally as pictures of his body circulated widely on social media.
Many protesters have said police left Brown’s body in the street to intimidate the black community. In the video, Jackson said “no disrespect” was intended, and the removal of the body was delayed so officers could gather evidence.
“But it was just too long, and I am truly sorry for that,” said Jackson, standing in front of an American flag and wearing not his uniform, but a short-sleeved polo shirt.
Protesters have pledged continued civil unrest until Wilson is arrested and charged in Brown’s death. A grand jury in St. Louis County is examining the case, as is the U.S. Department of Justice.
Another violent protest erupted in Ferguson late on Tuesday night. Two officers suffered minor injuries and five people were arrested in the protest, which lasted into Wednesday.
Benjamin Crump, an attorney for Brown’s parents, declined to comment on Jackson’s apology. Brown’s parents were in Washington on Thursday calling for federal legislation requiring police officers to wear body cameras to document their activities.
Watch this video report posted online by KMOV-TV:
(Reporting by Carey Gillam in Kansas City; Additional reporting by Ian Simpson in Washington and Curtis Skinner in San Francisco; Editing by Mohammad Zargham and Clarence Fernandez)