A spokesman for the Ferguson Police Department was placed on unpaid leave after reportedly making dismissive comments about a memorial for Michael Brown, the 18-year-old black man who was shot and killed by white Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in August.
The makeshift memorial for Brown had been partly destroyed last week. When a reporter for The Washington Post asked the Ferguson Police Department about the incident, public information officer Timothy Zoll told the paper: “I don’t know that a crime has occurred. But a pile of trash in the middle of the street? The Washington Post is making a call over this?”
The city of Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis, said Saturday that Zoll had been placed on unpaid leave and now faces disciplinary proceedings.
“The City of Ferguson wants to emphasize that negative remarks about the Michael Brown memorial do not reflect the feelings of the Ferguson Police Department and are in direct contradiction to the efforts of City officials to relocate the memorial to a more secure location,” the city said in a statement, adding, “The City of Ferguson and the Ferguson Police Department in particular, are focused on creating a trusting relationship with the entire community and taking impactful steps to improve the effectiveness of the department.”
Residents have since cleaned up and rebuilt the memorial, which a car had run into.
Brown’s death sparked weeks of racially charged protests in the Ferguson area and around the country and prompted a national conversation about race relations and policing. A grand jury hearing evidence in the case of Brown’s death decided not to indict Wilson.