Responding to criticism that police in Ferguson, Mo., have arrested individuals engaged in peaceful protests, Ferguson police chief Tom Jackson parried:
If individuals are in a crowd that’s attacking the police, they need to get out of that crowd. We can’t individually go in and say, ‘Excuse me, sir, are you peacefully protesting? Are you throwing rocks? Are you throwing a Molotov cocktail?’
According to Jackson, “tactical commanders on the ground” are responsible for making the decisions to use tear gas, rubber bullets, and other non-lethal measures, and those decisions are “based on the threat of violence.” Unfortunately, because individual peaceful protesters cannot be separated out of violent crowds, those protesters may suffer part of the police pushback.
Jackson advised demonstrators: “If the crowd is getting violent, and you don’t want to be violent, get out of the crowd.”