Ferguson, Mo., police chief Thomas Jackson said Thursday that his officers would work to allow for peaceful protests amid the escalating tensions between police and protesters, but added that “we need to have everybody tone it down” and defended the tactics being used to control the crowd.
Jackson said that the police would set up an area on a sidewalk for the protesters to congregate on Thursday and said that there were ongoing conversations about “the appearance” of having militarized law enforcement stand off with civilians. The authorities were “meeting to evaluate tactics,” he said.
“It’s a powder keg, and we all recognize that,” Jackson said. “What’s happening now is not what anyone of us want… We need to get everyone to calm down.”
“I understand that what it looks like is not good,” he added. “The whole situation is not good.”
Jackson did, however, defend the use of rubber bullets and tear gas by law enforcement to disperse the crowds. He said that “gunfire” and “fire bombs” were coming from the crowds, and the police responses were “based on the threat of violence.” Tactical units would continue to patrol the streets, Jackson said.
“We have to respond to deadly force,” he said. “We certainly don’t want to have any violence on our part.”