Soon after Police Chief Jackson made the release of the robbery footage of Michael Brown, there was a bit of a furor in the press in why he did that
so soon after things had actually finally settled down in Ferguson. A few articles actually questioned whether or not Jackson had deliberately
incited renewed violence.
Captain Ron Johnson of the Missouri Highway Patrol – who does command police authority over protest events ongoing in Ferguson, Missouri, as
of Thursday afternoon – was not informed in advance that Chief Jackson would release this video, he later told media. CNN reported on Saturday that
U.S. Department of Justice officials warned Chief Jackson against releasing it. He ignored them.
The video immediately inflamed the local residents who had started a protest movement that is spreading throughout the region and nation. The reason
for their anger has been widely expressed in social and other media.
The St. Louis American wasn't the only one to report on the tidbit about Jackson actually being discouraged from releasing the surveillance video and
utilizing CNN as a reference either. Huffington Post also remarked on it:
CNN revealed on Saturday that the Department of Justice found out about the video earlier this week and asked police not to make it public.
According to CNN, the DOJ was worried that the footage would spark more violence in Ferguson.
Now interestingly enough, the sourced CNN article no longer has that particular bit of information still in the source article. However, one bit of
it does still exist in the form of a tweet from Evan Perez, CNN's Justice and National Security reporter.
DoJ opposed #Ferguson cops releasing robbery video, citing concern of inflaming tensions, law enf ofcl says; cops did it anyway
Outside of the mystery as to why CNN would remove this portion of their article, it's pretty clear that their reporter, Evan Perez was both upset at
what Jackson had done and stated that it was in contradiction to what the Department of Justice had advised to avoid inflaming the situation. So why
did Jackson do it?
[quote[Mr. Jackson said the decision to release information on the alleged robbery came in response to numerous media requests under
freedom-of-information laws. He said it was determined the department was required to release the material and couldn't hold on to it any
So Jackson's claim that he released the video based on numerous media requests under the FOIA and "couldn't hold on to it any longer". However,
if the Department of Justice had advised against releasing the surveillance video for fears that it would inflame the situation, then is his
fulfillment of those FOI requests from media actually a sound rationale? Just what department determined he was required to release it? His own?
Secondly, according to FOIA.gov, FOI requests work like this:
This is a written request in which you describe the information you want, and the format you want it in, in as much detail as possible. You
should be aware that the FOIA does not require agencies to do research for you, analyze data, answer written questions, or create records in response
to your request.
In other words, a FOI request isn't a carte blanche request for them to dig up anything and everything they've got. It's fairly specific.
Considering that the majority of the public and media at large did not seem to have any inkling that the footage existed as it was roundly reported
that Michael Brown had no criminal record, then it opens up yet another question--whether any media specifically requested the surveillance footage in
the first place. Additionally, Jackson admitted that the surveillance video did not, in fact, have any relevance in the shooting of Michael Brown:
Jackson said he released both pieces of evidence at the same time because the media had asked for both. However, he did say the robbery and
the shooting of Michael Brown were not connected.
“All I did was release the video tape because I had to, ” Jackson said.
Again, Jackson claimed that the media had asked for both, referencing the documents and surveillance video released, which is a strange request for
the "Michael Brown had no criminal record" reporting. And it wasn't even connected to the shooting by his own admission. The officer involved in
the shooting was totally unaware of Brown having been involved in a robbery. Brown's only crime that instigated the incident that resulted in
Brown's death was jaywalking.
So those are the questions in my mind about Chief Jackson releasing the surveillance video and documents so soon after peace finally returned to
Ferguson. Jackson has been coming under a lot of fire about what had been occurring in Ferguson over the last week and had been removed from command
over the protests. The entire string of events is now under investigation by the Dept. of Justice and the FBI and roundly condemned by even Holder
and Obama. Did Jackson have a sour grapes moment and deliberately provoke the crowd? Or was he merely trying to clear his department's name by
showing that it wasn't black or white as being depicted but shades of grey?
What do you think? Incite to violence? Poorly executed self defense gone wrong? Or ???