Democratic committeewoman of Ferguson Township.
Protests continue in Ferguson, Missouri, calling for the arrest of Darren Wilson, the officer who killed the unarmed African-American teenager Michael Brown. On Friday, officers dismantled an encampment where activists had been living in the weeks since Brown’s death. Some accused police of excessive force. More protests took place over the weekend, including one outside the Ferguson Police Department Sunday night. Two officers were wounded in separate shootings, but police say they were unrelated. The Justice Department has ordered local police to stop wearing bracelets in support of the officer who shot Michael Brown, which read "I Am Darren Wilson." Ferguson officers have also been instructed to stop hiding their identity through obscured nametags or not wearing them at all, saying it conveys a message that "officers may seek to act with impunity." We are joined by Patricia Bynes, Democratic committeewoman of Ferguson Township.
AMY GOODMAN: We turn to Ferguson, Missouri, where protests are continuing over last month’s police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown. Tension escalated over the weekend when a Ferguson police officer was shot in the arm in an incident that was unrelated to the protests. A new round of protests erupted Thursday after Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson released a video apologizing to Brown’s family more than six weeks after he was killed.
POLICE CHIEF THOMAS JACKSON: I want to say this to the Brown family: No one who has not experienced the loss of a child can understand what you’re feeling. 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. The time that it took involved very important work on the part of investigators who were trying to collect evidence and gain a true picture of what happened that day, but it was just too long, and I am truly sorry for that.
AMY GOODMAN: Hours later, Chief Jackson addressed protesters directly, as they shouted questions at him.
POLICE CHIEF THOMAS JACKSON: You don’t have to accept that. That came from my heart. I had to get off that my chest. That’s been sitting there for two months. OK?
PROTESTER 1: Why? Why two months? Why two months? That’s [inaudible].
POLICE CHIEF THOMAS JACKSON: I know. I know it was. I know everybody’s pissed off.
PROTESTER 2: Why did you put him on paid leave? Why did you put him on paid leave?
AMY GOODMAN: After this exchange, Ferguson Police Chief Jackson accepted protesters’ request to join in their march. But almost immediately, his fellow officers began shoving demonstrators and creating what many observers described as a melee. A few people were arrested. The parents of Michael Brown told the Associated Press Saturday they were unmoved by Chief Jackson’s apology.
LESLEY McSPADDEN: I wouldn’t talk to him. I don’t want words. I want action.
MICHAEL BROWN SR.: Apology will be when Darren Wilson has handcuffs, processed and charged with murder. They say that this is America, but we’re not getting treated like we’re Americans. Our fight here is just to open other eyes to understand how we’re feeling and trying to get something done about it.
AMY GOODMAN: For more, we go to St. Louis, where we’re joined by Patricia Bynes, Democratic committeewoman of Ferguson Township, now doing weekly workshops on civic engagement with Ferguson United, which includes several state representatives and Fergusons’s only African-American city councilmember, Dwayne James.
Patricia Bynes, it’s great to have you back again. We were with you on the streets of Ferguson. Can you talk about what’s taken place over these last few days—the apology from the police chief, the parents’ responses we just heard, and even the shooting of the officers this weekend, although it’s not considered related to the protest?
PATRICIA BYNES: Correct. Hi. Yes, good morning. Thursday was a very busy day, with the apology, and then, later on that night, it seemed like the officers instigated a fight. There was several arrests that night. One of them, a woman was even knocked unconscious by the police, and she was carried by her hands and her feet to jail. So, Thursday—after Thursday, it was very apparent that we were going to have a very long weekend. That’s exactly what we had.
Friday, out on the protest site, it was very silent. It wasn’t too much activity. And I think that’s because everyone was tired—the protesters and the officers.
But Saturday night, when those officers were shot at, which was unrelated to the protests—they were not anywhere near the protest site—of course, it’s horrible that people are shooting at police officers. That’s never something that needs to happen. And it’s getting very scary. It’s raising the tension of the officers and also of the community. So we’re not in a very good place.
And even last night, at the protest, we had what was called a "white allies rally," because we wanted to show that this is not just a black issue. This is a human issue. There were eight arrests made last night. They dove into the crowd to pick people who they wanted to arrest, based on basically prior activity and how they were acting that night. And things are still high.
AMY GOODMAN: To be clear, one of the officers who was shot in the arm, he was investigating something at the Ferguson Community Center. Another was not a Ferguson officer, a St. Louis officer who was off duty, in his own clothes, in his own car, on the highway, and there was some kind of drive-by shooting that broke the glass, and he was not seriously injured. And again, even the police are saying this is not related. I wanted to ask you about the photo that surfaced last week on social media that allegedly depicts a Ferguson police officer wearing the "I Am Darren Wilson" bracelet in support of the officer who killed Michael Brown. Missouri Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson confirmed the bracelets’ existence and said they were a personal statement for the officers wearing them. On Friday, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division sent a letter to Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson indicating he had agreed to prohibit Ferguson officers from wearing the bracelets while in uniform and on duty. The letter said Jackson had said he would make sure the other municipal agencies working in Ferguson would prohibit their officers from wearing the bracelets, as well. Your response, Patricia Bynes?
PATRICIA BYNES: I certainly agree with that request. We are still having problems here with officers of the law being in proper uniform. On Thursday night, I personally observed officers not wearing their name tags. On Friday, I called the chief of police of the municipality that he represented and asked what’s being done about this, since the Justice Department came out with a statement on Wednesday saying that officers are supposed to be wearing name tags. Last night—I cannot say this for myself, but the protesters said that they saw an officer wearing an "I Am Darren Wilson" bracelet. And I went and I spoke with the line commander and asked him to please investigate that. So we are still having problems with law enforcement showing up in proper uniform, and this is a problem. The seriousness of the "I Am Darren Wilson" bracelets is that it helps just incite and causes tension, which that’s not a part of police professional uniform. So, what they do on their personal time and how they choose to dress, that’s one thing. But when we are in a situation we’re protesting, that’s just not appropriate. And that was a very good call from the Department of Justice. But we’re still having problems, and I am personally going to be following up and asking questions. When I see officers without name tags on, I will be calling their chiefs of police and notifying the Department of Justice.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to also ask you about another protest over a death in police custody. On September 19th in the nearby town of Pagedale, police said they found 21-year-old Kimberlee Randle-King dead in her jail cell. The death was ruled a suicide, which prompted protests from skeptical family and their supporters. This is her sister, Kandice King, and god-sister, Rachel West.
KANDICE KING: They said she strangled herself with her shirt.
REPORTER: I’m sorry?
KANDICE KING: They said she strangled herself with her shirt.
UNIDENTIFIED: And there’s no way.
KANDICE KING: No way.
UNIDENTIFIED: There’s no way possible for her to do it, and I know it.
KANDICE KING: No way possible.
RACHEL WEST: We need answers. We need how. We need why. They’re just following answers. We’re not asking for much. We need solid answers.
AMY GOODMAN: That was Kandice King and god-sister Rachel West on KMOV. Patricia Bynes, do you more about this, as we wrap up in our last minute?
PATRICIA BYNES: I know that protests are continuing to happen about this incident. I know that the family is saying that it’s not like she was suicidal or anything. And she was just brought in for a traffic ticket. So when I see people being knocked unconscious for myself by the police, when I see people being body-slammed and bruised, it really makes me wonder the amount of force that’s taking place. And we have—we’re well past the point of having a serious problem with police enforcement here in the St. Louis County area.
AMY GOODMAN: And finally, the grand jury decision on whether to indict Darren Wilson, when that will come down?
PATRICIA BYNES: I have not heard anything other than still thinking that there’s a chance for that to happen in October. And I feel like it should. They should—I believe that October is a fair enough time frame to give as much a thorough—to go over as thoroughly and transparently as possible of this evidence, to stop having this community feel like it’s being held—
AMY GOODMAN: Haven’t they said November or even January, or at least the grand jury would be extended ’til then?
PATRICIA BYNES: That is what they said. And when they found out how angry it made the community, all of a sudden prosecutor Bob McCulloch started doing interviews, saying that, well, it’s still very possible that we could get something back in early October.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, Patricia Bynes, I thank you for this update.
PATRICIA BYNES: Thank you.
AMY GOODMAN: Democratic committeewoman of Ferguson Township, who continues to spend her time both in the streets and working on reconciliation in the community and monitoring the police.