Police officials in Ferguson, Missouri — pressured by the Justice Department — agreed to ban officers from donning bracelets that support the officer who fatally shot 18-year-old Michael Brown in early August, USA Today reported, adding that the agreement involved nearby police departments as well.
The ban on "I Am Darren Wilson" bracelets was confirmed Friday in a letter to Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson from Christy Lopez, deputy chief of special litigation for the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department, USA Today added.
"These bracelets reinforce the very 'us versus them' mentality that many residents of Ferguson believe exists," Lopez wrote, according to USA Today.
The Justice Department also told Jackson to order his officers to adhere to policy by wearing nameplates on their uniforms after federal investigators and residents reported seeing some with their nameplates off or covered, the paper reported.
Lopez said the Justice Department was "keenly aware of the importance of individual expression of opinions, even those that some find offensive, insensitive or harmful" and 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," USA Today added.
"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," Lopez wrote, according to the paper.
Wilson hasn't been charged in connection with his Aug. 9 shooting of Brown, who was unarmed. Wilson said he fired after Brown attacked him. While the case has been under investigation, demonstrations erupted in Ferguson last month, at some points on a nightly basis.
On Saturday night a Ferguson police officer was shot in the arm after reportedly confronting two individuals suspected of attempting to break into a business.