A Christmas tree is seen near a memorial to Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., on Dec. 25, 2014
Aaron Bernstein—Reuters
By Elizabeth Barber
December 29, 2014

A spokesman for the Ferguson, Mo., police department has been suspended after he admitted calling a memorial for an unarmed black teenager shot dead by a white officer “a pile of trash,” the city said on Saturday.

Officer Timothy Zoll was put on unpaid leave when he told his superiors that the Washington Post had correctly quoted him as referring derogatorily to the stuffed animals and flowers placed where Michael Brown, 18, was killed by Officer Darren Wilson, Reuters reports.

Zoll had been the Ferguson Police Department’s spokesman on the fatal shooting, for which Wilson was not indicted. The case became a flashpoint for national protests and sparked an ongoing debate about race relations on the U.S.

Zoll had at first insisted that the Washington Post misquoted him when it cited him as referring to Brown’s memorial as “trash.” A Post reporter called Boll on Friday to ask about reports that someone had intentionally driven over the memorial, to which Zoll allegedly replied: “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 said in a statement that “negative remarks about the Michael Brown memorial do not reflect the feelings of the Ferguson Police Department” and reiterated the department and city’s commitment to “rebuilding a trusting relationship with he entire community.” The tribute to Brown has since been rebuilt.

[Reuters]

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