A police officers’ group in Columbia, Mo. proclaimed August 9th as “Darren Wilson Day” in honor of the officer who shot and killed black unarmed teen Michael Brown in Ferguson.
The day marked the one-year anniversary of the shooting and the third day of protests in Ferguson’s black community.
According to reports, the Wilson tribute did not go over well.
A Facebook post published Sunday referred to Mr. Wilson as an “innocent, but persecuted, officer.” The group said in the post that its support for the officer had nothing to do with race, according to The Columbia Daily Tribune. The post was removed on Monday.
Almost immediately, the Columbia Police Department and other local officials condemned the CPOAs recognition of Wilson. In a statement, the department said the post “has served to inflame the emotions of some in our community. The Columbia Police Department will not allow a statement such as this to hinder our constant efforts to open the lines of communication with all people in our community.”
Columbia Police Chief Ken Burton said, “I found the post offensive, and I thought I needed to stand with the community and say what the police department thinks about it.” Protestors gathered in front of police headquarters, about 115 miles from Ferguson, on Monday. He added, “It was insensitive at best, and provocative at worst.”
Meanwhile, at what had been a relatively peaceful demonstration to honor Brown in Ferguson on Sunday, shots were heard. A man said to be shooting at police, was himself shot and was last reported to be in critical condition.There was also reported violence between “criminal elements” and peaceful protestors. Some businesses were vandalized and looted. About 150 arrests were made.
U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Mo), who represents Ferguson, said a lot more needs to be done to improve relations between police and the city’s 67 percent-African American community. However, she pointed to the now-majority black city council, new police chief and economic programs as signs of positive change.
Michael Brown, Sr., father of Michael Brown, said not much has changed in Ferguson in the year that his son was slain. Appearing on MSNBC with a long beard, he has vowed not to shave until he feels justice has been served.
On Facebook, the senior Mr. Brown wrote this post to thank and warn Ferguson residents:
“My family and I are truly humbled by the level of support that we received over this weekend. Our marches were all done very peacefully. So please be careful, mindful and protect yourselves from those who would like to see this be unsuccessful."
Meanwhile, the CPOA posted another statement on Monday, saying their efforts were misinterpreted: “CPOA supports Officer Darren Wilson and all law enforcement officers who endure similar situations.”