A Department of Justice letter sent to the Police Chief Tom Jackson of Ferguson, Missouri on Friday instructed all officers to stop wearing “I Am Darren Wilson” bracelets. Another letter issued on Tuesday ordered members of the police department to wear readable name plates, after officers were seen wearing unidentifiable tags or none at all.
Protests have not stopped in Ferguson since officer Darren Wilson shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was unarmed, in August. And in response to civil unrest, which gained steam again after Brown’s memorial was burned to the ground on Tuesday, and the use of the slogan “I Am Mike Brown,” officers were photographed wearing the bracelets supporting the officer who killed him.
The DOJ letter sent to Jackson explained that the bracelets contributed to an “us versus them” mentality and “upset and agitated” others.
In a separate letter, the DOJ also said that officers must stop violating name tag protocol by obscuring or altogether not wearing their name tags. The practice, DOJ said, “conveys a message to community members that, through anonymity, officers may seek to act with impunity.”
Ferguson police previously drew national attention for the militarization of officers, which made the town look like a war scene and resulted in the arrest and attempted censorship of journalists on the ground. And clashes between police and protestors haven’t stopped.
Although Jackson gave Brown’s parents a video apology and joined protesters in the streets this week, Darren Wilson still hasn’t been charged, raising questions about the justice system and politics in the town. Ferguson has a history of racial tension, and research shows that justice is hard to come by for victims of police brutality. For example, a Supreme Court ruling gives police legal deference to determine “reasonable” force. But protestors say civil unrest will continue until the officer is held accountable.