A Code 2000 was called last night. My agency responded though I was not working at the time. Protests became violent near the Ferguson Police Department on S. Florissant. What preceded the violence was a series of actions by Chief Tom Jackson of Ferguson Police which included an apology speech. By all accounts, the speech was stupid. It seems law enforcement and protesters actually agree on something today even if the reasoning used by each group is diametrically opposed.
Yesterday, Chief Jackson released a statement apologizing for various issues within the last month… but refrained from actually apologizing for the specific complaints of the demonstrators. Really, what resulted was akin to someone saying, “I’m sorry for how you perceived my actions.” Personally, I don’t have a problem with him offering his condolences to the Brown family. I did so myself on the day of Mike Brown’s funeral in this blog with the post, “Even if.” However, apologies should be used in instances which result from your actions, instances in which you are responsible.
Chief Jackson didn’t pull the trigger on Mike Brown. Chief Jackson wasn’t responsible for Brown’s body remaining in the street, since he turned over the investigation to St. Louis County within minutes of learning about the incident. Furthermore, Chief Jackson wasn’t responsible for the demonstration response or the use of tactical units within Ferguson. Even if the police are at fault for these things, which I would firmly argue we are not, Chief Jackson has no operational control over anything with the exception of one issue. He released the robbery video but that’s not what he apologized for.
Interestingly, the speech seems very similar to another video which aired on Sunday 8/17/2014.
Ironically, what followed Ron Johnson’s speech was the most violent night in Ferguson thus far. I watched that video before I went into work on 8/17 and was so mad I could barely see straight. Furthermore, I wasn’t alone. Johnson completely lost any good will he had with the police responding to the demonstrations. The title “Capt. Hug-a-Thug” has now become ingrained as his unofficial title and supported by further moves like marching with the crowds calling for Darren Wilson’s head and deciding that the curfew would be “enforced with discussion, not force.” Even other troopers have been quick to distance themselves and affirm that they don’t agree with him even if they have to work for him.
However, what’s most important about the previous speech by Ron Johnson and last night by Tom Jackson, was that both men gave official justification to anger and the result was more violence.
Still, Tom Jackson wasn’t content to just release his apology video and move on. He actively followed the Ron Johnson playbook by joining a march that was actively geared toward the message of forcing his resignation. The self destructive nature of his march participation is so mind-blowingly stupid and dangerous, not only for himself but also the officers forced to protect him, his judgment has clearly been compromised. At this point, he is either responding to orders from the city government and has no other option other than to resign for his own safety, or the pressure has finally reached a boiling point and he should be forced to resign.
It has occurred to me that perhaps he fears for the lives of his family, has begun receiving credible threats, and his seemingly insane actions are the result of a desperate man trying to save the lives of his family. After all, the pedigree information of Tom Jackson and his entire family (as well as several others including Chief Belmar of St. Louis County) were released by hackers affiliated with Anonymous in the early days of this conflict. If you’re really that interested in confirming that last point, you can find it on your own. I refuse to make that information any more widely available than it already is, though I have seen it.
Interestingly, as of last night, the PR firm hired to represent the city of Ferguson has been fired. This firm was hired by St. Louis County executive Charlie Dooley and not anyone from within the City of Ferguson itself. Furthermore, the PR Rep himself has an interesting past of his own.