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article imageOp-Ed: Ferguson police chief should be fired

By Nathan Salant     Sep 27, 2014 in Politics
Ferguson - If there still was anyone in the country who thought Tom Jackson could continue as police chief of Ferguson, Missouri, the video "apology" he posted Thursday surely disabused them of any such notion.
Jackson apologized numerous times for his officers' over-the-top overreaction to citizen protests against the police-involved shooting of an unarmed black teenager in the St. Louis suburb, but his comments actually were disingenuous and self-serving.
In other words, signifying nothing.
Oh, Jackson did repeatedly say the word "apologize," but it was more like when kids says "sorry" to get out of being punished, rather than actual remorse.
To what should be his further shame, Jackson said he was apologizing directly to the parents of Michael Brown, the 18-year-old shot dead Aug. 9 by Darren Wilson, a white officer, for leaving their child's body lying in the street for hours after he was shot.
Jackson said police did not do that out of disrespect for the victim, but of course that was plainly untrue.
The only explanation for trained police officers to leave a dead body lying in the middle of the street was to try to intimidate local residents.
That's why Ferguson police under Jackson's command also rolled out military hardware to keep order in the face of chanting, sign-carrying demonstrators; it was a show of force designed to intimidate rather than accommodate.
These are the people who pay the police to protect them, not treat them like criminals.
Yet even last week, within hours of Jackson's televised apologies, Ferguson cops were at it again, rushing in to break up a group of people who gathered after someone trashed a memorial to Brown and the chief decided to venture out for a walk through the community.
So much for that apology.
But at least this time, police did not fire tear gas or rubber bullets at peaceful demonstrators, or worse after police agitation got demonstrators agitated.
Only five people were arrested, not the dozens arrested in protests that followed the shooting, and two police officers were injured.
"The right of the people to peacefully assemble is what the police are here to protect," Jackson said, according to the Reuters news service.
"If anyone who was peacefully exercising that right is upset and angry, I feel responsible and I'm sorry," he said.
Again, "sorry" might work if Jackson were a kid being yelled at by his parents, but it certainly does not work when the person saying it is a veteran police chief heading a department of more than 50 officers being generously compensated by the people demonstrating.
Or, if Jackson was finding out about the Bill of Rights for the first time.
But In this situation, when Jackson and the rest of his officers presumably already knew the laws they have sworn for decades to protect, it is just embarrassing.
Jackson should be forced to resign if he won't go voluntarily, and the rest of his staff and most of Ferguson's 53 mostly white officers should be forced to quit, too.
Jackson and Ferguson police officials already have been sued for $40 million by demonstrators alleging civil rights violations, and surely there will be more lawsuits to follow.
But this really is not about money, although the city did hire a public relations firm to put together Jackson's televised mea culpa, Reuters said, and that certainly cost something.
This is about fairness, about safety, about the rule of law and about the future role of police in U.S. society.
Chief Jackson and the Ferguson police have proven they do not understand these responsibilities and should either be fired or be encouraged to step aside.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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