Ferguson Police Chief Apologizes to Michael Brown’s Family, Peaceful Protesters: ‘We Have Much Work to Do’
Ferguson, Missouri, police chief Thomas Jackson released a video message Thursday apologizing to Michael Brown’s family and the peaceful protesters who were sprayed with tear gas and attacked with rubber bullets.
Jackson faced a swarm of backlash for the way Ferguson police officers handled the death of 18-year-old Brown.
Brown was shot multiple times by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9 and then his body remained uncovered in the street for hours as residents looked on in disbelief.
Brown’s death was followed by chaos sweeping the streets of Ferguson as peaceful protesters were forced to square off with police officers who were ready for war.
“I want to say this to the Brown family,” Jackson says in his apology. “No one who has not experienced the loss of a child can understand what you’re feeling. I am truly sorry for the loss of your son. I am also sorry that it took so long to remove Michael from the street.”
Jackson then directed his attention toward the peaceful protesters whose constitutional rights seemed to take a back seat to the officers’ urge to use military style weaponry on unarmed citizens.
“There were many people who were upset at what happened in Ferguson and came here to protest peacefully,” Jackson continued. “Unfortunately, there were others who had a different agenda. I do want to say to any peaceful protester who did not feel I did enough to protect their constitutional right to protest, I’m sorry for that.”
While looters did take to the streets of Ferguson as well as peaceful protesters, communities all across America questioned the Ferguson police officers for the way they seemed to treat both groups of people as one.
Also, critics on social media asked why police officers were not at the store fronts protecting local businesses if their target was truly the looters and not the people who were marching and protesting in honor of the fallen teen.
Jackson fell under even more backlash once the department decided to release footage of Brown robbing a convenience store.
For many, it seemed to be yet another tactic to criminalize an African-American victim and somehow justify why he was shot multiple times.
According to Jackson, however, the department meant no harm by released the tape.
“The investigating officers meant no disrespect to the Brown family, to the African-American community, or the people [of Ferguson],” he said. “They were simply trying to do their jobs …I’m also aware of the pain and the feeling of mistrust felt in some of the African-American community toward the police department. The city belongs to all of us and we are all part of this community. It’s clear that we have much work to do.”
The video apology was not followed by the resignation that many social media users and citizens of Ferguson have pushed for, but Jackson tried to suggest that things would change moving forward.
He told CNN that he is “taking ownership” of his decisions and he wants to “see this through.”
Meanwhile, the FBI, the Department of Justice and a county grand jury are investigating Brown’s death.
Wilson is still on paid leave and has not been charged with any crime.