Police in Ferguson will no longer be allowed to wear bracelets in support of Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager.
The shooting in August unleashed days of unrest on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri.
In a letter released on Friday, the Justice Department says Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson has agreed that his police officers and any other officers brought in to patrol Ferguson will be banned from wearing “I am Darren Wilson” bracelets.
The Justice Department said it received complaints from Ferguson residents who felt offended by the accessory.
The letter, written by Christy E. Lopez, of the department’s Civil Rights Division, goes on:
“We are keenly aware of the importance of individual expression of opinions, even those that some find offensive, insensitive, or harmful. We also acknowledge that the message that many officers intend to convey by wearing these bracelets may be different than the message received by many of those who see these bracelets.
“Nonetheless, there is no question that police departments can and should closely regulate officers’ professional appearance and behavior, particularly where, as here, the expressive accessory itself is exacerbating an already tense atmosphere between law enforcement and residents in Ferguson. These bracelets reinforce the very ‘us versus them’ mentality that many residents of Ferguson believe exists.”
In a separate letter, Lopez writes the department has observed officers who were not wearing name plates.
“Officers wearing name plates while in uniform is a basic component of transparency and accountability,” Lopez writes.