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Police Agree To Some, But Not All, 'Rules Of Engagement' From Ferguson Protesters

FERGUSON, MO - NOVEMBER 20:  Police confront demonstrators protesting the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown outside
FERGUSON, MO - NOVEMBER 20: Police confront demonstrators protesting the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown outside the police station on November 20, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. At least three people were arrested during the protest. Brown was killed by Darren Wilson, a Ferguson police officer, on August 9. A grand jury is expected to decide this month if Wilson should be charged in the shooting. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

With a grand jury decision imminent in the case of Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson, law enforcement officials in St. Louis said Friday that they would agree to some, but not all, of the "Rules of Engagement" for dealing with the public proposed earlier this month by area protesters.

In recent weeks, a coalition of more than 50 protesters in Ferguson have created a list of 19 rules of conduct they want police to follow during future demonstrations -- particularly those expected to occur once the grand jury announces whether it will indict Wilson, who on Aug. 9 fatally shot Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager.

As of Friday, the jury was still in session, but a decision is expected before the end of the month.

On Friday, St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay tweeted a link to a post on his official website, which said that police commanders have met or spoken with protest leaders five times to discuss the proposed rules, and have fully agreed to eight of the 19.

"The first priority shall be the preservation of human life," reads the Rules of Engagement document -- a statement with which the police command said they agree.

Some of the other rules of conduct that law enforcement officials said they would honor include "clear standards of professionalism and sound community-friendly policing," and the treatment of protesters as citizens and not “enemy combatants.”

However, despite the police response, some Ferguson protesters remain skeptical about whether officers can be trusted to protect citizens or prevent violence.

“The police ‘response’ to the Rules of Engagement was a hollow attempt to feign that they want peace,” DeRay McKesson told The Huffington Post Friday. McKesson is a key activist in the Ferguson movement and a member of the coalition that composed the list of rules.

Slay, together with Missouri Department of Safety Director Dan Isom and St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley, issued a statement Friday that urged peace in the coming days and addressed the list of rules.

Slay said that while some of the proposed rules make sense and are indeed already being practiced by law enforcement, others would make it difficult or impossible for officers to carry out their jobs.

“The bottom line is that we have instructed our police officers to protect the protesters’ Constitutional rights,” Slay wrote on his website. “We have directed them to use more active tactics only when necessary to keep people safe or to protect property.”

According to documents published online, police declined requests for officers to “wear only the attire minimally required for their safety,” saying instead that they will use protective gear when needed to protect fellow officers, and that the gear would not be used to intimidate protesters.

They also declined requests to prohibit the use of crowd control equipment, including armored vehicles, rubber bullets, rifles and tear gas, saying the use of those tools and equipment will be left to law enforcement’s discretion.

Another point of disagreement was the use of safe houses for protesters as “sacred ground." While the unified command said they would honor those spaces, they also said that “life safety and exigent circumstances could be valid reasons to enter.”

Law enforcement authorities also did not agree to provide protesters with 48 hours’ notice ahead of the grand jury’s announcement, saying that decision was beyond their control.

In the past few nights, police have arrested a handful of protesters in Ferguson. Many fear that the presence of so many law enforcement officials, including members of the National Guard, will only exacerbate the situation if violence breaks out.

“The police, with the arrests [from] the past nights, continue to provoke and agitate protesters,” McKesson told HuffPost in an email. “Justice is blind to blackness in STL.”

In effort to maintain the peace, President Barack Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder and Michael Brown’s father have all addressed the public in recent days to call for calm and urge people not to resort to violence.

“I thank you for lifting your voices to end racial profiling and police intimidation -- but hurting others or destroying property is not the answer,” Michael Brown Sr. said Thursday.

“No matter what the grand jury decides, I do not want my son’s death to be in vain," said Brown. "I want it to lead to incredible change, positive change, change that makes the St. Louis region better for everyone."

HuffPost

BEFORE YOU GO

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    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Jordan Johnson, left, 8, from Washington, Camille Chrysostom of Bowie, Md., and Jaimee Swift of Philadelphia, observe a moment of silence at Meridian Hill Park, also known as Malcom X Park, Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014 in Washington, to protest the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by police in Ferguson, Mo. Vigils were held across the country for people organizers say died at the hands of police brutality. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
  • People in a crowd hold signs and listen to speakers at a demonstration on Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014, in Decatur, Georgia, in th
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    People in a crowd hold signs and listen to speakers at a demonstration on Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014, in Decatur, Georgia, in the town square. The demonstration of more than 200 people was held in response to the shooting death of Michael Brown and following unrest in Ferguson, Missouri. (AP Photo/ Ron Harris)
  • An unidentified man holds a banner on Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014, in Decatur, Georgia, in the town square. The demonstration of
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    An unidentified man holds a banner on Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014, in Decatur, Georgia, in the town square. The demonstration of more than 200 people was held in response to the shooting death of Michael Brown and following unrest in Ferguson, Missouri. (AP Photo/ Ron Harris)
  • An unidentified man wearing a crown listens as a speaker addresses the crowd on Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014, in Decatur, Georgia.
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    An unidentified man wearing a crown listens as a speaker addresses the crowd on Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014, in Decatur, Georgia. The demonstration of more than 200 people was held in response to the shooting death of Michael Brown and following unrest in Ferguson, Missouri. (AP Photo/ Ron Harris)
  • Protesters march through Leimert Park to protest the shooting of an unarmed man in Ferguson, Mo., and other victims of police
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Protesters march through Leimert Park to protest the shooting of an unarmed man in Ferguson, Mo., and other victims of police shootings, Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
  • Protesters walk in the middle of Crenshaw Blvd. to protest the shooting of an unarmed man in Ferguson, Missouri and other vic
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Protesters walk in the middle of Crenshaw Blvd. to protest the shooting of an unarmed man in Ferguson, Missouri and other victims of police shootings, Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
  • Demonstrators peacefully gather Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014, at the site where Michael Brown was shot and killed by police in Fer
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Demonstrators peacefully gather Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014, at the site where Michael Brown was shot and killed by police in Ferguson, Mo. The Missouri Highway Patrol seized control of a St. Louis suburb Thursday, stripping local police of their law-enforcement authority after four days of clashes between officers in riot gear and furious crowds protesting the death of an unarmed black teen shot by an officer. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
  • A demonstrator holds up a sign Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014, at the site where Michael Brown was shot and killed by police in Ferg
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    A demonstrator holds up a sign Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014, at the site where Michael Brown was shot and killed by police in Ferguson, Mo. The Missouri Highway Patrol seized control of a St. Louis suburb Thursday, stripping local police of their law-enforcement authority after four days of clashes between officers in riot gear and furious crowds protesting the death of an unarmed black teen shot by an officer. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
  • Rev. Traci Blackmon uses a megaphone to talk to a large group of demonstrators Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014, at the site where Mic
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Rev. Traci Blackmon uses a megaphone to talk to a large group of demonstrators Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014, at the site where Michael Brown was shot and killed by police in Ferguson, Mo. The Missouri Highway Patrol seized control of a St. Louis suburb Thursday, stripping local police of their law-enforcement authority after four days of clashes between officers in riot gear and furious crowds protesting the death of an unarmed black teen shot by an officer. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
  • Thousands of demonstrators peacefully march down a street with members of the St. Louis County Police and Missouri Highway Pa
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    Thousands of demonstrators peacefully march down a street with members of the St. Louis County Police and Missouri Highway Patrol Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo. The Missouri Highway Patrol seized control of a St. Louis suburb Thursday, stripping local police of their law-enforcement authority after four days of clashes between officers in riot gear and furious crowds protesting the death of an unarmed black teen shot by an officer. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
  • Demonstraters peacefully march down a street Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo. The Missouri Highway Patrol seized con
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Demonstraters peacefully march down a street Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo. The Missouri Highway Patrol seized control of a St. Louis suburb Thursday, stripping local police of their law-enforcement authority after four days of clashes between officers in riot gear and furious crowds protesting the death of an unarmed black teen shot by an officer. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
  • Protesters march in New York City’s Union Square, Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014. Vigils are being held across the country for peo
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Protesters march in New York City’s Union Square, Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014. Vigils are being held across the country for people organizers say died at the hands of police brutality. The events come in the wake of the shooting death of Michael Brown by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, and the death of a New York City man caused by a police officer's apparent chokehold. (AP Photo/Michael R. Sisak)
  • About 1000 people march peacefully in New York City’s Union Square, Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014. Vigils are being held across t
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    About 1000 people march peacefully in New York City’s Union Square, Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014. Vigils are being held across the country for people organizers say died at the hands of police brutality. The events come in the wake of the shooting death of Michael Brown by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, and the death of a New York City man caused by a police officer's apparent chokehold. (AP Photo/Michael R. Sisak)
  • Demonstrators hold candles and signs Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo. Hundreds of people protesting the death of  Mi
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Demonstrators hold candles and signs Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo. Hundreds of people protesting the death of Michael Brown marched through the streets of Ferguson alongside state troopers Thursday. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
  • Supporters raise their hands during a rally at Meridian Hill Park, also known as Malcom X Park, Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014 in Wa
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Supporters raise their hands during a rally at Meridian Hill Park, also known as Malcom X Park, Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014 in Washington, to protest the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by police in Ferguson, Mo. Vigils were held across the country for people organizers say died at the hands of police brutality. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
  • A group of women take part in a candlelight vigil in New York, Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014, after nearly 1000 people marched in N
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    A group of women take part in a candlelight vigil in New York, Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014, after nearly 1000 people marched in New York’s Union Square. Vigils are being held across the country for people organizers say died at the hands of police brutality. The events come in the wake of the shooting death of Michael Brown by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, and the death of a New York City man caused by a police officer's apparent chokehold. (AP Photo/Michael R. Sisak)
  • FERGUSON, MO - AUGUST 14:  Capt. Ronald Johnson of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, who was appointed by the governor to ta
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    FERGUSON, MO - AUGUST 14: Demonstrators shout slogans and hold up signs during a rally to protest the shooting death of an unarmed teen by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, on August 14, 2014. Eighteen-year-old Michael Brown was shot dead by police in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri on August 09, 2014. (Photo by Bilgin S. Sasmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
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    FERGUSON, MO - AUGUST 14: Demonstrators raise their hands during a rally to protest the shooting death of an unarmed teen by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, on August 14, 2014. Eighteen-year-old Michael Brown was shot dead by police in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri on August 09, 2014. (Photo by Bilgin S. Sasmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
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  • FERGUSON, MO - AUGUST 14:  Demonstrators raise their hands during a rally to protest the shooting death of an unarmed teen by
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    FERGUSON, MO - AUGUST 14: Demonstrators raise their hands during a rally to protest the shooting death of an unarmed teen by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, on August 14, 2014. Eighteen-year-old Michael Brown was shot dead by police in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri on August 09, 2014. (Photo by Bilgin S. Sasmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
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