After days of protest and outrage from the people of Ferguson, Missouri over the death of unarmed teen Michael Brown, the Ferguson Police Department has released their first official statement since the shooting occurred on Saturday.
— Laura Hettiger KMOV (@LauraKHettiger) August 13, 2014
The statement reads:
The City of Ferguson mourns the loss of Michael Brown’s life that occurred this past Saturday. We understand members of our community, and those nationwide, are grieving with us. We have worked diligently to provide an opportunity for our residents to both grieve and voice their frustrations through prayer vigils and peaceful protests.
We would like to extend our gratitude to the St. Louis County Police Department, the St. Louis City Police Department, the Missouri Police Highway Patrol and numerous local law enforcement agencies for their assistance over the past few days. These officers have worked throughout out the night to quell violent outbursts and restore calm to our city.
We are working to restore confidence in the safety of our community and our neighborhoods so that we may begin the healing process. We have heard the community’s cries for justice and assure the public that the Ferguson Police Department will continue to cooperate fully in the investigations led by the St. Louis Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Justice Department.
We only ask that any groups wishing to assemble in prayer or in protest do so only during daylight hours in an organized and respectful manner. We further ask all those wishing to demonstrate or assemble disperse well before the evening hours to ensure the safety of the participants and the safety of the community. Unfortunately, those who wish to co-opt the peaceful protests and turn them into violent demonstrations will have been able to do so during the evening hours. These events are not indicative of the of the city of Ferguson and its residents.
The City of Ferguson has been through tough situations in the past, albeit nothing to do with this magnitude, but will continue to display, but will continue to display resilience and fortitude. The Mayor and the City Council are committed to taking the necessary to rebuild and strengthen the community. We look forward to your cooperation and support.
The Ferguson Police Department has also been the center of controversy regarding its lack of diversity in the force. Out of the 53 officers, three are African-American in the predominately Black neighborhood. Ferguson Mayor James Knowles explained that it’s hard to hire black officers in town:
“We hire everyone that we can get,” Knowles said. “There’s also the problem that a lot of young African American people don’t want to go into law enforcement. They already have this disconnect with law enforcement, so if we find people who want to go into law enforcement who are African American we’re all over it because we want them to help us bridge the gap. But these young people, they’re not interested in law enforcement. There’s already this frustration with law enforcement.”
Stay tuned for more updates from the Ferguson Police Department as they continue to come in.