"Do or Do not. There is no try."

“The Usual Sorry For Your Loss”: Ferguson Police Chief’s Sad Excuse For An Apology

It took four hours for the police in Ferguson, Mo., to remove the body of Michael Brown, the unarmed teenager killed by a police officer, from the street where it lay. It took the police chief nearly seven weeks to issue an apology to Mr. Brown’s family. His videotaped comment was late, oddly staged and very unclear about what exactly he was apologizing for and why (apart from perhaps a desire to keep his job).

The videotape ( by the police chief, Thomas Jackson, was bizarre in many ways. Appearing before an American flag and what looks like a city flag of Ferguson, he was not just in plain clothes instead of his uniform but he was wearing a golf shirt.

He started by talking about how the shooting of Michael Brown had sparked a national “conversation” about race and the role of the police “in that conversation.” Well, no. It sparked angry protests that were met by police armed to the teeth with automatic weapons, armored vehicles and tear gas. It sparked some rioting and looting. And it sparked outrage among African Americans around the country and not just in Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis that is heavily black but has a town government and police force that is almost entirely white.

If that is Mr. Jackson’s idea of a conversation, I’d hate to see his idea of an argument.

Mr. Jackson allowed that Mr. Brown’s death was “the central issue that brought us here today.” And he said to the slain teenager’s family: “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.”

Please note: He’s not apologizing for the actual killing of Mr. Brown. He’s just offering the usual “sorry for your loss” that police offer people whose loved ones are killed – say in an automobile crash. And as for his apology for the four-hour delay in which the boy’s body lay on the street, that seemed pretty conditional too.

“The time that it took involved very important work on the part of investigators who were trying to collect evidence,” he said, adding that the investigators “meant no disrespect” and were “simply trying to do their jobs.”

He then apologized — actually seeming sort of sincere about it — to “peaceful protesters who did not feel I did enough to protect their constitutional right to protest.”

But it was not that you did not do enough to protect that right, Mr. Jackson, but you sent your small-town trained, big-war equipped cops out to deny them that right with the threat of deadly force.

As I said, I’m not sure why Mr. Jackson made this video. But it’s far too late, far too confused and far too self-serving to matter a whole lot.


By: Andrew Rosenthal, Taking Note, The Editorial Page Editors Blog; The New York Times, September 26, 2014


September 28, 2014 - Posted by | Ferguson Missouri, Law Enforcement, Michael Brown | , , ,

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