While the situation seems to remain more calm on average than during the height of the protests, tensions are still running high in Ferguson. Last night a police officer on routine patrol interrupted a burglary in process and wound up being shot.
St. Louis County Police reported a male police officer from Ferguson was doing routine patrol around 9:10 p.m. in the 1000 block of Smith Avenue when he interrupted a burglary at a business.
Police say the officer saw a man behind the Ferguson Community Center and got out of his vehicle to see why he was there. The suspect fled and the officer followed on foot.
Officials say during the pursuit the suspect turned toward the officer with a handgun and began firing shots. The officer was hit in the left arm. Police say the officer returned fire but there is no indication that the suspect was struck. The suspect then fled the scene.
Earlier in the week there were more outbursts, looting and rioting after a memorial to Michael Brown caught fire and residents suspected authorities of being involved, despite numerous candles burning at the scene. It looks like the situation is still tense enough that every incident is viewed through the lens of suspicion of the police and violence is never far below the surface.
The Justice Department, in their ever helpful way, apparently thought they could keep a lid on things by telling the local cops to not wear bracelets showing support for their fellow officer.
The U.S. Justice Department asked the Ferguson, Missouri, Police Department on Friday to order its officers not to wear bracelets in support of the white policeman who shot to death an unarmed black teenager last month, sparking protests.
I’ll just pause in the quoted material for a moment here and ask you to reread that opening paragraph while considering yesterday’s discussion of The B Word.
In a letter to Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson, the Justice Department said residents had told its investigators that officers policing protest sites on Tuesday in Ferguson were seen wearing “I am Darren Wilson” bracelets…
The letter said the bracelets had “upset and agitated” people and “reinforce the very ‘us versus them’ mentality that many residents of Ferguson believe exists.”
The DOJ said it had been assured by officials with the county and state police, which have been brought in to help in Ferguson, that their officers would not wear them. Ferguson police could not be reached for comment on Friday evening.
I’m not exactly sure what the DOJ is hoping to accomplish here. Given the ongoing flare-ups in violence and shootings, as well as the continued activity around memorials, it’s not as if the community has already forgotten the shooting. A lack of wrist adornment on the local police isn’t going to make it go away, either. In the meantime, they seem to be expanding the perception that Justice is coming in with their thumb on the scale and picking sides against the local PD. Last time I checked, Officer Wilson has yet to even be charged with a crime, to say nothing of having been convicted. Ordering his fellow officers to not show any support for him, even with a symbol as innocuous as a small wrist band, is not going to inspire a lot of confidence or cooperation among the first responders.