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Ferguson Chief's Attempt To Meet With Crowd Leads To Scuffle And Arrests

Ferguson police chief Tom Jackson at the microphone
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

During a tense Thursday night, demonstrators returned to the area outside the Ferguson police department  and held a quick march or two. Even though the verbal exchanges were intense, control was maintained – until the police chief tried to improve the situation. 

Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson tried to offer an apology – after having released a video apology earlier in the day -- and to answer questions from protestors gathered outside of his headquarters last night. He promised changes – more training, fewer fines: “We’ve got to increase training and awareness. We’ve got to get out in the community, we’ve got to change the court system and the ticketing system. No I’m serious, this is what’s causing the mistrust, right?”

His words seemed to do nothing to placate the crowd that called for his resignation.

Jackson asked what they would have him do. Some responded with a request for him to march alongside them. So Jackson told his fellow officers to hang back, and he marched.

They only made it about 10 yards.

Then a few Ferguson officers attempted to shove their way to their chief, and that upset many protestors. After a scuffle between the two sides, police arrested several protestors.

The entire incident did little to mend a chasm of mistrust between the two groups.

Unpublic Relations

Earlier Thursday evening, the Post-Dispatch reported that the man who has been overseeing public relations for Ferguson -- Devin Sean James– had been convicted of reckless homicide in 2006. The city of Ferguson said it was aware of the conviction and of James’ history of early gang activity but felt his story of turning his life around was inspiring.

James’ main employment was with the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership, however; and after the news broke, it ended that relation. On Friday Katy Jamboretz, the partnership's vice president for marketing and communications issued a report that said:

"While we admire his personal growth from difficult circumstances and commend him for his high quality work in Ferguson, it was the lack of information about his background that prompted us to make this move. Mr. James failed to inform us of his prior conviction. ... As of today, we are developing new vendor due diligence policies which we believe will prevent similar incidents in the future."

Donna Korando contributed to this report.