Ferguson police chief’s apology ‘too little, too late’

Police Chief Thomas Jackson’s address was meant as a sincere way to engage with members of the Ferguson community. Many critics saw it differently.

Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson apologized Thursday morning to the parents of Michael Brown and to peaceful protestors.

The video, in which Jackson reads a statement from a piece of paper, can be added to the growing list of PR mistakes the Missouri city and its police force have made since the Aug. 9 shooting death of Brown by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson.

Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson’s Urgent Announcement from Devin James Group on Vimeo.

The Devin James Group, a PR firm recently hired to help the city repair its image, released the video to CNN, where it quickly made its rounds on both traditional and social media channels.

In the video, Jackson was out of uniform and said the following:

As chief of police and as a resident, I want to be part of that conversation. I also want to be part of the solution. But before we can engage in further discussion on the broader issues, I think it’s important that we address the central issue that brought us here today: That’s the death of Michael Brown.

I want to say this to the Brown family: No one who has not experienced the loss of a child can understand what you are 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.

Jackson continues to apologize, or over-apologize—he says the word “sorry” five times and “apologize” once. He closes by saying:

As a community, a city, and a nation, we have real problems to solve. Not just in Ferguson, but the entire region and beyond. For any mistakes I have made, I take full responsibility. It’s an honor to serve the city of Ferguson and the people who live there. I look forward to working with you in the future to solve our problems. And once again, I deeply apologize to the Brown family.

The Rev. Al Sharpton, who spoke at a press conference Thursday at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., said the apology was “a little insensitive” as well as “too little, too late.”

“Whether they wear blue jeans or blue uniforms, criminals must be held accountable,” Sharpton said.

Reactions on Twitter echoed Sharpton’s statements, as many wondered why Jackson waited weeks to make a formal apology:

Others pointed out that the apology didn’t offer any plans for the department to change in light of recent events. As many critics are calling for Wilson’s—and even Jackson’s—resignations, omitting a plan of action did nothing to help Jackson’s reputation.

The apology came on the heels of St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar’s statement addressed to the St. Louis County Police Board of Commissioners on Wednesday, in which he seemingly refused to take responsibility for Brown’s death.

“At the end of the day, we didn’t kill anyone because of our actions or seriously injure someone,” he said.

Though Belmar said Brown’s body should have been moved more quickly and that officers with scopes mounted on rifles atop armored trucks probably provoked the crowd, he defended other tactics that officers used against Ferguson protestors, including the use of tear gas.


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