On Saturday, June 7, the interim police chief of Ferguson, Missouri (yes, “that” Ferguson) Al Eickhoff conducted an interview with LA Times reporter Molly Hennessy-Fiske to give his take on the events following Michael Brown’s shooting on August 9, 2014. He spoke briefly about numerous topics including the Department of Justice report, rebuilding trust in the community, and community protests.
You can read the interview for yourself here, but I’ll save you the trouble: it’s bullshit. Interim Police Chief Eickhoff hasn’t learned anything from either Michael Brown’s death, the protests and riots (which were two different things), the resignation of former Chief Tom Jackson, or the DOJ report. He says things like, “When I hear people blame things on Ferguson, I don’t think it’s fair,” “If you get out of your car, there’s people filming you with phones, there’s media – so you feel like you’re being scrutinized,” and “Anytime anything bad happens in Ferguson, it’s Ferguson’s fault even if it isn’t our department.” He blatantly lies, saying that the reason Mike Brown’s body lay in the street for 4 ½ hours was because officers were being shot at, he claims that there were paid protesters, and he asserts that before Michael Brown’s murder, the department didn’t have riot helmets or gas masks (Click here to see Daily KOS staff writer Shaun King debunk these and other lies.). He calls the blatantly racist emails between Ferguson police officers an “email incident” and downplays the harm done to protesters by saying, “Tear gas may irritate your eyes, but long term it doesn’t harm you,” and that “all those things [police] did saved lives.” He accepts no responsibility for the racial tensions and racist actions of Ferguson police and gives no indication that he thinks anything substantial needs to change. With this man at the helm, I honestly fear for the citizens of Ferguson.
There can be no trust in either community police officers or police officers as a whole when they repeatedly and flagrantly twist the truth and place all the blame on the victims. If Interim Chief Eickhoff had simply kept his comments neutral, had expressed some sort of sympathy for Michael Brown and protesters, had even said, “Mistakes were made in the past, but we’re committed to fixing them” instead of spending the whole interview whining about being misrepresented and overburdened, I could have backed him – and so could many others. But instead I’ve got to quote Tony Rice, a leader of the Ground Level Support group, when he says, “I don’t think they learned anything… I don’t think this regime can be worked with. They all need to be jettisoned.”