A Missouri public relations officer is in hot water after allegedly making controversial remarks about the memorial for Michael Brown, the teen shot by a Ferguson Police Department officer back in August.
Department officials say Timothy Zoll was placed on administrative leave, suspended without pay, for referring to the Mike Brown memorial as a "pile of trash."
"I don't know that a crime has occurred. But a pile of trash in the middle of the street? The Washington Post is making a call over this?"Friday, in the early morning hours, local residents discovered that the makeshift memorial to Brown was destroyed. Flowers, letters and other mementos were scattered over a large area in the middle of the street near the Canfield Green apartment complex. The location is where Brown died from gunshot wounds. Photos suggest an unknown motorist ran over the symbolic tribute.
The street memorial on Canfield was run over tonight. Hate remains deep in America. (via @jay_myles2) pic.twitter.com/0NrvUC6wCkBrown, 18, was shot and killed by police officer Darren Wilson in broad daylight. The teen was unarmed at the time of the shooting, and his death ignited a wave of protests across the country, some violent, others largely peaceful. At the center of the public's outcry are claims of police brutality, racial profiling, unfair prosecutions against minorities, alleged systematic police coverups and disproportionate numbers of police shootings involving young men and boys of color.
— deray mckesson (@deray) December 26, 2014
Given the current climate around the country over alleged racially-charged shootings by police officers, Ferguson officials moved quickly to suspend Officer Zoll in wake of his WP interview. The department released a statement and said Zoll misled his supervisors about his statements during the interview. Initially, he denied calling the memorial "trash." Later, he allegedly recanted his statements to investigators and admitted to lying.
"The Ferguson Police Department wants to emphasize that negative remarks about the Michael Brown memorial do not reflect the feelings of the Ferguson Police Department and are in direct contradiction to the efforts of city officials to relocate the memorial to a more secure location."Since the Michael Brown shooting, Darren Wilson resigned from his service with the Ferguson Police Department. He said he did so in order to lessen the tension in the community among residents and law enforcement. Wilson was not indicted by a secret grand jury over the killing of the unarmed teen. However, the Department of Justice, according to Attorney General Eric Holder, says a federal investigation of the department and shooting is ongoing.
In addition to the Ferguson police officer's suspension for "trashing" the Michal Brown memorial, officials say disciplinary proceedings may take place. However, they stopped short in saying what actions, if any, could result.
[Image via: The Guardian, Twitter]