FERGUSON, Mo. — Missouri State Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson appears to have worn out his welcome among the demonstrators protesting the Aug. 9 police shooting death of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.
The firm, smooth-talking highway patrolman has been a press favorite and the subject of much local admiration and praise in the last several days. He has managed to hit a very man-of-the-people note in his many public statements.
However, Johnson has made two important promises — and one exceedingly minor promise — that turned out to be broken very quickly.
On Saturday, Johnson broke a direct promise he had made hours earlier when police officers and SWAT units under his control broke up the night’s demonstration using military-like vehicles and tear gas to enforce a midnight curfew.
“We won’t enforce it with trucks. We won’t enforce it with tear gas,” he had told a boisterous crowd earlier in the day. “We’ll communicate. We’ll talk about, you know what, it’s time to go home.” (RELATED: Capt. Ron Johnson Breaks Ferguson Curfew Promise)
The very next night, Johnson said during a 1 a.m. press conference that the National Guard would not be called to restore order to Ferguson. However, shortly after the press conference, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon ordered National Guard troops onto the suburban St. Louis streets. (RELATED: Sunday Night Brings More Looting And Destruction To Ferguson; National Guard On Its Way)
Then, on Monday, Johnson agreed on live television to allow CNN’s Jake Tapper and Don Lemon to ride along with him in the turbulent streets of Ferguson. On Tuesday, he reneged on the promise. (RELATED: Daily Kos Issues Surprising Attack On CNN’s Jake Tapper)
Johnson’s two big false promises about tear gas and the National Guard have not been lost on the protesters in Ferguson.
The reception was notably chilly when he tried to speak to them Tuesday afternoon.
In a nutshell, many protesters have now concluded that Johnson is a phony.
“He has let us down,” 33-year-old Ferguson resident Justina Cramer told The Daily Caller. “You say you are for the people. Now you are shutting us down. We are not here to be quiet.”
Cramer was on the scene when Johnson spoke late Tuesday afternoon near a makeshift media pen around the corner of West Florissant Avenue and Canfield Drive.
“I feel betrayed. I feel lied to. I feel abused. I don’t trust him.” she told TheDC. “His promises aren’t worth anything. I do believe he is abiding by the orders he is given.”
Cramer said the police captain generally ignored questions from the assembled protesters. Her question, she said, was what he wants from the protesters and why the ground rules for protesting keep changing.
He became frustrated and would not answer her, she said. Instead, he brushed off all the protesters, turned around and began addressing various members of the media.