Gone were the SWAT trucks and snipers. Gone were the riot shields and militaristic outfits. Gone was the hostility. And guess what? Gone was the violence.
Yesterday the Missouri Highway Patrol was given responsibility over the area. Patrol Capt. Ronald S. Johnson, who is a Ferguson native, marched in front of the crowd and set clear priorities for the marchers which respected their civil liberties. Governor Jay Nixon had vowed to take a different approach to the event, which has spurred national interest after police were caught tear gassing and arresting reporters.
“When I see a young lady cry because of fear of this uniform, that’s a problem.” Johnson said. “We’ve got to solve that.”
Johnson vowed not to blockade the street, and even went so far as to set up a staging center for the media. The officers were careful to ensure that residents had the right to assemble and the police were told to take off their gas masks while working crowd control.
Johnson, who is also African American, hugged and kissed his fellow community members as they walked by. The Washington Post reported that when one man asked Capt. Johnson what he would say to his niece who was tear gassed, Johnson replied: “Tell her Capt. Johnson is sorry and he apologizes.”
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