Ferguson Mayor, Police Chief Say No More Media Interviews Until Grand Jury Decision

Nov 20, 2014 at 9:40 am
click to enlarge Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson. - Lindsay Toler
Lindsay Toler
Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson.

Ferguson's mayor and police chief will not talk to reporters until the grand jury announces whether officer Darren Wilson will face charges for fatally shooting unarmed teen Michael Brown.

The New York Times reports that it requested an interview with Mayor James Knowles on October 29 after rumors spread that chief Tom Jackson was about to resign. The city waited three weeks to respond, sending this unsigned statement Wednesday afternoon:

We have received your request for interviews with Ferguson police chief Thomas Jackson and/or mayor James Knowles. At this time no further interviews are being given prior to the St. Louis County grand jury decision being released. We appreciate your understanding regarding this matter.

See also: Police Arrest Three Protesters, Impound Nixon Accountability Truck in Ferguson

Following Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch's prediction that the grand jury decision would come down in mid- to late-November, swarms of national and international reporters descended on Ferguson this week to prepare to cover expected protests. On Wednesday night, for the first time since early November, a protest outside the Ferguson Police Department resulted in several arrests. Protesters said a clergy member and the popular livestreamer Bassem Masri were among the six five people detained by police. (See update below.)

Update, 11 a.m.: Ferguson Police released the names of the protesters arrested Wednesday night:

-Bassem Masri, 27, of the 15000 block of Coventry Farms in Chesterfield, MO was arrested on the charge of being a fugitive from St. Louis City. -Maxwell Peterson, 24, of the 20000 block of W. 68th in Wisconsin was arrested for refusal to disperse and unlawful assembly. -Terry Poucher, 29, of the 1600 block of St. Genevieve in Farmington, MO, was arrested for refusal to disperse and unlawful assembly. -Rebecca Ragland, 46, of the 1100 block of Pine Tree Lane in Webster Groves, MO, was arrested on the charges of refusal to disperse and failure to move a vehicle obstructing the flow of traffic. -David Rodriguez, 26, of the 6200 block of 92nd Place in Oak Lawn, IL, was arrested for refusal to disperse and unlawful assembly.

End of update.

Update, 10:30 a.m.: Here's video taken by Masri before he was arrested: In one of his final interviews before his withdrawal from the media, Knowles told Al-Jazeera he regrets telling reporters in August that there was "no racial divide" in Ferguson.

"I'm obviously very, very much regretting having said that," he told Al-Jazeera, "but I think people, again, need to recognize that those divides, those differences [don't] mean this community didn't have good race relations before this happened."

Follow Lindsay Toler on Twitter at @StLouisLindsay. E-mail the author at [email protected].