Ferguson protesters and police agree on limited ‘rules of engagement’
St. Louis County officials said on Friday they would honor some, though not all, of the Ferguson protesters’ proposed “rules of engagement” for police interactions during demonstrations that may come with the impending grand jury decision there.
Among the rules the two sides are in agreement on: The first priority will be to preserve human life, police will wear minimally required attire for their safety and police will establish channels of communication with protesters for deescalation during tense situations.
The rule they didn’t agree on: That police would limit use of crowd control tactics, like rubber bullets and tear gas.
“Unified Command believes public safety should help determined the best tools to keep people safe,” St. Louis County officials said in a comment added to the document, which we’ve embedded below.
Officials clarified that the process was not a negotiation — it was a conversation with the protest groups — as the two sides met five times to discuss the requests.
“The fact that we can sit around the table even through there may be differing opinions, is why I have confidence that we will come through this better, and not worse,” said St. Louis County Executive Charlie A. Dooley.
St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay said officials agreed to have the conversation “because in similar situations in other cities, things ended up very, very badly.”
“We do not want that for our region. This is our city, and we live here together,” he said.
Officials agreed with many of the proposed rules “because they made sense” or they were already in place, the mayor added. Those that were not accepted were denied because they “limited the officers’ ability to keep people and properties safe,” he added.
“We instructed our police officers to protest the protesters constitutional rights. We have directed them to use more active tactics only when necessary to keep people safe and protest property,” Slay added.
Michael Brown’s dad calls for protesters to avoid violence
Earlier on Friday, Michael Brown Sr., father to the slain teenager Michael Brown, released a YouTube video stating he didn’t want his son’s death to be in vain, and that hurting people or property was not the answer — no matter what the grand jury decides.
“We live here together. This is our home. We are stronger united,” he said. “Let’s work together to heal to work lasting change, for all people regardless of race.”
Eric Holder calls for police to use restraint
With a decision by a Ferguson, Missouri, grand jury believed to be imminent, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is exhorting police across the nation to prepare appropriately for demonstrations and “minimize needless confrontation” with protesters.
He also says in a video post by the Justice Department that protests are most effective when they’re nonviolent.
The Holder video released by Justice Friday doesn’t specifically refer to the situation in Missouri where a St. Louis County grand jury is deliberating whether to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the Aug. 9 shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old.
But in message, Holder does mention demonstrations over the past few months that sought to draw attention to “real and significant underlying issues involving police practices.”
Additional reporting by Megan Specia and the Associated Press.