The bracelets worn by police are “exacerbating an already tense atmosphere between law enforcement and residents in Ferguson,” according to a DOJ letter.
The U.S. Department of Justice has a message for police in Ferguson who would wear “I am Darren Wilson” bracelets: don’t.
On Friday, the DOJ sent a letter to Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson that characterized the bracelets as problematic. The letter was a response to a picture that surfaced earlier this week, which apparently showed an officer wearing a bracelet displaying the words “I am Darren Wilson.”
According to the letter, the bracelets “reinforce the very ‘us versus them’ mentality that many residents of Ferguson believe exists.” They also are “exacerbating an already tense atmosphere between law enforcement and residents in Ferguson,” the letter added.
The letter — which was signed by Deputy Chief Christy Lopez — asks for confirmation that Jackson will prohibit his officers, as well as officers from other departments who come to his city, from wearing the bracelets.
“I am Darren Wilson” has been a popular refrainamong his supporters for weeks.Jim Dalrymple II
Demonstrators in Ferguson in August.
Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson killed Michael Brown on Aug. 9. Almost immediately, protesters began displaying “I am Michael Brown” signs. Supporters of Wilson — who is on leave while a grand jury reviews his actions — responded with “I am Darren Wilson” paraphernalia.
In a news conference Wednesday, Missouri Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson characterized the “I am Darren Wilson” bracelets as an “individual statement” by police officers, rather than a “statement of law enforcement.”
Friday’s DOJ letter states that despite the need for freedom of expression, police departments should “closely regulate” officers’ appearance.
Police officers in Ferguson also need to wear legible name tags, the DOJ said in the letter.
In addition the the bracelets, the letter touches allegations that police in Ferguson have covered their name tags with black tape. Protesters in Ferguson have complained since August that police haven’t been wearing name tags, and the letter states that “not wearing, or obscuring, name plates violates” Ferguson’s own police policies.
The letter requests that the department “end the practice immediately.”
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