FERGUSON, Mo. — Missouri State Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson did what no cop has done for the past five days on Thursday night: He walked through a crowd of more than 1,000 protesters and answered their questions.
"Thank you for coming out here," one woman told Johnson as he sat in a police SUV late Thursday night, taking questions from protestors and hearing their demands that the name of the officer who killed unarmed teen Michael Brown be released.
CNN reported that, according to its unnamed sources, the name would be released on Friday.
As the unexpectedly civil interaction continued, a woman toweled sweat off Johnson's head.
Johnson’s visit marked an evening in which this St. Louis suburb, which had, for the last four nights, been a scene of wrenching violence and become a symbol of explosive rage at what the mostly black residents saw as unrestrained police brutality following the shooting death of the unarmed Michael Brown, drew back from the brink.
By 9 p.m. the crowd stood at more than 1,000, with not a single police officer in sight. The hectic but peaceful protesters seemed determined to take advantage of what Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon and President Barack Obama said earlier in separate press statements. Namely, that the people’s right to peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances shall not be met with tear gas and rubber bullets.
“This is currently my community and my home,” Johnson had said at the governor’s earlier press conference, shortly after being named to take over security in the area. “We need to break the cycle of violence … and build trust.”
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