With so many public figures—from President Barack Obama to Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon—telling Black people how we should respond peacefully if Darren Wilson isn’t indicted for the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, activists in St. Louis have presented Ferguson police with 19 ‘Rules of Engagement’ to adhere to so as not to incite violence as they did in previous protests.
A coalition of roughly 50 groups, under the name “Don’t Shoot Coalition,” presented local authorities with the list. In a post on his website, St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay said that police agreed to eight of the 19 rules, but made it clear that it came with stipulations:
The police commanders – and Charlie and I — agreed to most of the rules because they made sense, or, we already follow them. We did not agree to some of the proposed rules because those rules would have limited officers’ ability to keep people and property safe.
The bottom line is that we have instructed our police officers to protect the protesters’ Constitutional rights. We have directed them to use more active tactics only when necessary to keep people safe or to protect property.
If there are protests, we expect some of the protesters will be disruptive. They will likely try, as they did in October, to inconvenience people to make their point.
If protesters are not violent, police will not be aggressive. But, if some protesters turn violent or threatening, police will respond to keep everyone safe — including bystanders, the peaceful protesters, and police officers themselves.
When demonstrators are being civilly disobedient, they will, in most cases, be given a chance to adhere to the law before they are arrested. And then, if necessary, they will be arrested in a non violent manner.
Depending on the circumstances, we may allow them to occupy public space longer than normally tolerated. That will be decided on a case-by-case basis.
Our departments will dress appropriately to protect themselves –not to intimidate peaceful protesters.
Police tactics will not change based on the words protesters use — but their actions.
Read the ‘Rules of Engagement’ Below
1) The first priority shall be preservation of human life.
2) Channels of communication will be established so that situations can be de-escalated if necessary.
3) Police will give protesters 48 hour advance notice before grand jury decision is announced.
4) Police will provide to the public information that makes clear the chain of command, who is making
what decisions and the processes for deciding when the police response will be escalated.
5) Every attempt should be made to communicate with protesters to reach “common sense” agreements
based on these protocols, both ahead of time and at the scene of protests.
6) Clear standards of professionalism and sound community friendly-policing will be maintained and
adhered to at all times.
7) Police will wear only the attire minimally required for their safety. Specialized riot gear will be avoided
except as a last resort.
8) Crowd control equipment such as armored vehicles, rubber bullets, rifles and tear gas will not be used.
9) Police or other government authorities will not interfere with the free flow of information through
tactics such as limiting cell or internet access, interception of cell or other mobile conversations or
10) Every attempt will be made to pinpoint arrests so that only individual lawbreakers will be arrested.
“Kettling” and mass arrests will not be used.
11) Safe houses shall be considered sacred ground and only entered by police when called upon or if
12) Media, Legal Observers and Medics shall not be considered participants in protests and shall be allowed
to do their jobs freely.
Click here for entire list of rules.
As previously reported by NewsOne, the St. Louis County grand jury will reportedly reconvene Monday to continue deliberations on whether to charge Wilson in Brown’s death.