Politics

New Ferguson Police Commander Ron Johnson Walks With Protesters

The man now leading police in Ferguson, Missouri, walked Thursday night with those protesting the shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown, one day after protesters faced rubber bullets and tear gas from heavily armed officers in riot gear.

On Twitter, MSNBC's Jamil Smith in Ferguson captured a scene Thursday:

"We all want justice. We all want answers," the new commander, Capt. Ron Johnson of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, told The Associated Press.

When it was announced that Johnson would command law enforcement in Ferguson starting Thursday night, he said "it means a lot to me personally that we break this cycle of violence."

Ryan Reilly of The Huffington Post and Wesley Lowery of The Washington Post, who were briefly detained by officers Wednesday night, both tweeted about the contrast:

Hundreds peacefully protesting. Leader says about police: "they respect us, let's respect them." #ferguson https://t.co/t032gQaNBy

— Wesley Lowery (@WesleyLowery) August 14, 2014

Will stop waxing poetic long enough to note sun still up, night is young. But the change in tone on ground right now is stunning #ferguson

— Wesley Lowery (@WesleyLowery) August 14, 2014

Protesters have gathered nightly in Ferguson since Brown was shot to death by a police officer last weekend. Law enforcement has used tear gas and rubber bullets on the crowds, and pictures of police outfitted with military-style arms and equipment attracted attention from Washington, where Attorney General Eric Holder said he was "deeply concerned" about police use of the gear and a Democratic congressman said he would introduce legislation to stem the militarization of local police.

At the press conference earlier Thursday, Gov. Jay Nixon (D) expressed hopes there would be a shift under Johnson's leadership.

See updates on the situation in Ferguson below:

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