Missouri Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson gave a rousing and heartfelt speech at a rally today at a Ferguson church for Michael Brown, the unarmed 18-year-old man who was shot by police a week ago. In a rally attended by the parents of Brown and a lineup of nationally known civil rights leaders, Johnson, who has become the face of the law enforcement effort in Ferguson, was greeted with a standing ovation by the crowd of approximately 1500 people.
Capt. Johnson began by speaking to Michael Brown’s family. “I want you to know my heart goes out to you and I say that I’m sorry. I wear this uniform and I should stand up here and say that I’m sorry,” Johnson said. The crowd cheered and again gave Johnson a standing ovation.
“This is my neighborhood,” Johnson continued. “You are my family, you are my friends, and I am you.” He vowed to protect the community’s right to protest.
He said his heart was full seeing a church full of people clapping and cheering. “This is what the media needs to put on TV.”
Johnson admitted that the last 24 hours had been tough for him, saying that he had met some members of Michael Brown’s family. “They brought tears to my eyes,” Johnson said. “And shame to my heart,” he added.
He said, however, that his daughter had encouraged him with the story of Peter and Jesus in the New Testament. “When Peter failed, Jesus picked him back up,” his daughter told him.
He promised to stay with the community of Ferguson “as long as it takes.” Capt. Johnson said, “Because when this is over I’m going to go into my son’s room — my black son, who wears his pants sagging, wears his hat cocked to the side, got tattoos on his arms, but that’s my baby.” Johnson paused for another standing ovation.
“And we all ought to be thanking the Browns for Michael,” he continued. “Because Michael’s gonna make it better for all of our sons so they can be better black men. It will be better for our daughters so they can be better black women. Better for me so I can be a better black father. And we know they’re going to make our mamas even better than they are today.”
Johnson encouraged the community to pray and allow the death of Mike Brown to make them better. “I love you, I stand tall with you, and I’ll see you out there,” Johnson concluded.
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