Protests in Ferguson, Missouri turned heated Thursday night when the town’s police chief Tom Jackson attempted to march with demonstrators. Police officers had attempted to aid Jackson – who, just hours earlier, had made a video apology to the family of Michael Brown – and protesters collided with them, with at least four people taken into custody, according to Fox 2 Now.
The incident occurred after Jackson had come out to address protesters gathered outside police headquarters. “We have to increase training and awareness,” he told the crowd, according to St. Louis Public Radio. “We have to get out in the community. We have to change the court system and the ticketing system. No, I’m serious; this is what’s causing the mistrust, right?”
Some protesters reportedly called for his resignation, and when he asked the crowd what he should do, some said he should march with them. Jackson asked officers to maintain a distance, but St. Louis Public Radio estimates they made it only about 10 yards before the officers pushed their way up to him and the two sides clashed.
Jackson’s video apology to Brown’s family came more than a month and a half after policeman Darren Wilson killed 18-year-old Brown and the authorities left the teen’s body in the street for hours. For many, the apology came too late. “No one who has not experienced the loss of a child can understand what you’re feeling,” Jackson said in his statement. “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.” Jackson admitted letting the body sit there for a reported four hours was “just too long, and I’m truly sorry for that.”
He also apologized for interfering with citizens’ rights to peaceably assemble. “If anyone who was peacefully exercising that right is upset and angry, I feel responsible and I’m sorry,” Jackson said. “Overnight I went from being a small-town police chief to being part of a conversation about racism, equality and the role of policing in that conversation. As chief of police, I want to be part of that conversation. I also want to be part of the solution.” Jackson said he wanted to take responsibility for the mistakes he had made.
The Thursday night scuffle followed another unrelated protest this past Tuesday evening. Rioters ransacked a store called Beauty Town, whose owner estimates that more than $100,000 in merchandise had been stolen since Brown’s death. Seven people were arrested, four police officers were hit with rocks and two police cars were damaged, according to CBS News. Earlier in the day, a memorial to Brown had been burnt down, though the motive behind the burning remains unclear.
Some protesters filed a lawsuit seeking $40 million from Jackson and other police officials citing civil rights violations and police assaults, Reuters reports. Protesters have vowed more demonstrations until Wilson is arrested and charged with Brown’s death. Both the U.S. Department of Justice and a grand jury in St. Louis County are examining the case.