Missouri state Highway Patrol Cpt. Ron Johnson, who is leading police operations in Ferguson, addressed the crowd at a rally for Michael Brown in a Ferguson church, expressing sympathy for the Brown family and solidarity with the community.
“My heart goes out to you, and I say that I’m sorry. And I wear this uniform, and I should stand up here and say that I’m sorry,” Johnson began in his speech at the Greater Grace Church.
Johnson grew up in Ferguson, and told the community members gathered to honor Brown that he would continue to protect them.
“This is my neighborhood. You are my family. You are my friends. And I am you,” he said. “I will stand and protect you. I will protect your right to protest.”
He remarked that he arrived at the memorial held by Rev. Al Sharpton to cheers and clapping.
“This is what the media needs to put on TV,” he said.
Johnson also said that he met with Michael Brown’s family Saturday night.
“The last 24 hours have been tough for me,” he said. “My heart is heavy because last night I met some members of Michael Brown’s family.”
“They brought tears to my eyes and shame to my heart,” he continued.
Johnson promised transparency as he continues to manage police presence in Ferguson during protests.
He then drew parallels between Michael Brown and his own son.
“Because when this is over, I’m going to go in my son’s room, my black son, who wears his pants sagging, wears his hat cocked to the side, tattoos on his arms,” he said. “But that’s my baby.”