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.
After Johnson spoke, Cramer observed that counter-protesters have rallied in support of Darren Wilson, the officer who shot and killed Brown. A protest involving over 100 Wilson supporters occurred in front of the local NBC affiliate’s headquarters on Sunday night.
“Why are they allowed to congregate while we are made to walk?” Cramer asked.
In Ferguson, police officers have been telling the gathered crowd not to congregate and keep moving since Monday morning.
Police officials and community leaders are asking protesters to stay home tonight in light of several consecutive nights of chaos.
Police are now trying to corral protesters to an officially sanctioned assembly area. It’s a lot behind a bank.
On Sunday, Johnson spoke at nearby Greater Grace Church during a rally organized by Al Sharpton. (RELATED: Sharpton Strikes Defiant Tone In Speech To Huge Crowd About Michael Brown Shooting)
“I wear this uniform. I’m sorry,” the highway patrol captain told the congregated 1,300 or so people jammed in the pews and beyond in the lobby. “This is my neighborhood. You are my family.”
He also spoke about his own son who, he said, wears his pants saggy, his hat crooked, and has tattoos running up his arm.
“And that’s my baby! That’a my son,” Johnson said at the church, to raucous applause.
Seth Richardson contributed to this story.