Ramsey Laments “Basic Mistrust” of Police

“We need to find a way to break down those barriers.”

Matt Rourke/AP

Matt Rourke/AP

The events in Ferguson, Missouri, are weighing heavily on this week’s gathering of the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Arkansas,  which is being attended by 33 police chiefs and 38 mayors. The New York Times reports how those officials are thinking about Ferguson, and includes an interview with Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey. 

Charles H. Ramsey, the Philadelphia police commissioner, said in an interview that during the Occupy protests in Philadelphia, officers began each day by listening to the First Amendment read aloud, as a reminder that they were there to protect citizens’ right to demonstrate.

Commissioner Ramsey said that while watching the Ferguson protests and the police response, he concluded that “there were some mistakes made,” and pointed to “a very strong show of force that wasn’t necessarily in the interests of anyone there.”

“There’s a basic mistrust of police departments” in many American cities, he said. “We need to find a way to break down those barriers.”

The Occupy Philadelphia protests weren’t handled perfectly: 31 protesters were arrested when the camp was evicted from Dilworth Plaza in November 2011 — all 31 were cleared of charges stemming from the incident.