Following Wednesday night’s hectic clash between peaceful protesters and heavily armed police officers, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon pulled St. Louis County police from Ferguson and put the state’s highway patrol in charge of the situation.
The head of that new initiative—basically, to use anything besides scare tactics—was Captain Ron Johnson, who told reporters, “I understand the anger and fear the residents of Ferguson are feeling, and our police officers will respect both of them.” Johnson grew up in the area and, unlike most of Ferguson’s local police officers, is black.
From The Wall Street Journal:
“Mr. Johnson talked to some protesters Thursday evening, fielding questions. One of them complained that he often gets stopped for little reason by the police.
“‘I’ve got a son that deals with the same thing,’ Mr. Johnson said. The teenagers, some with face tattoos, took pause.”
The only direction protesters were given on Thursday night was that they couldn’t block traffic. Johnson even marched with protesters. At one point, he stopped one of the leaders of a march and asked where they were marching. “I’m gonna make sure you get there,” he said, and joined the demonstrators, putting his arm around a man with a loud-hailer, who led the crowd in a chant of “no justice, no peace.”
The protests continued past midnight, but with a much different tenor than 24 hours previously. Protesters mingled with traffic, honking support for the now peaceful demonstrations.
There was minor incident in the parking lot of a McDonald’s, where two journalists had been arrested Wednesday night. But unlike the previous night, the police backed off, rather than force a confrontation.
Otherwise, the protests were peaceful and a menacing police presence was almost nonexistent. Protesters on Wednesday night had been live-streaming scenes of tear gas and rubber bullets to document police aggression, but they were documenting their own smiling faces in selfies on Thursday night after a total about-turn in sentiment on the ground.
As well, this morning, authorities released the name of the police officer who shot Michael Brown. Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson revealed to the public that Officer Darren Wilson, a six-year veteran has no history of disciplinary violations with the department and received treatment for injuries apparently sustained during the incident with Brown. A police report on the encounter has also surfaced.
Previously, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) vowed on Thursday to mount a second legal challenge, seeking more details, while a ham-fisted attempt by members of Anonymous to identify the police officer did more harm than good. The wrong person was identified and his details spread across the web, leaving his stepmother to fear for her own life, as well as his.
Our complete Ferguson coverage: