The past month has been surreal for Black police officers, who find themselves straddling the line between Black and Blue.
Standing on the front lines with fellow police, they have been pelted with rocks and racial insults from Black Lives Matter protesters who say they don’t understand how a Black person can be part of a racist police system.
Black officers say they have always faced greater challenges than White cops, but now they find themselves empathizing with the very protesters who are scorning them.
“The internal struggles of a Black police officer is not one a lot of people would understand,” said Mirtha Ramos, chief of police in DeKalb County, Georgia. “You have to justify not being blue enough because you are Black, and not being Black enough because you are blue.”
The Washington Times spoke with a half-dozen active or retired Black officers about their experiences. They all said they had experienced racism on the job, including refusals by White officers to speak with them and finding a noose hanging in their squad car.
“We don’t speak up because it’s career suicide,” said Regina Coward, who recently retired after 27 years with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. “We let a lot of things slide because we know for a fact that when we speak up we get locked out. So we just go along with the program because there is no consequence.”
She spoke up after two years on the job when a White sergeant told her she had “good d—k-sucking lips.”
The supervisor was ordered to attend sensitivity training, but Ms. Coward said her consequences were more severe: She was not promoted during her entire career.
Still, she said, she has no regrets.
“That was the best thing that ever happened to me in my whole 27 years of service,” she said. “It taught me to fight. When I spoke up, I wasn’t popular at the time, but what it did do was make people instantly respect me.”
Questions of race and policing have surged to the forefront of the national conversation after the May 25 death of George Floyd, a Black man, while in the custody of Minneapolis police. In the weeks since, peaceful protests and violent riots have broken out in cities from coast to coast, some politicians have sought to slash police budgets and Congress has started working on new national standards for officer conduct.
The Justice Department says the U.S. has more than 15,000 law enforcement agencies, which employ more than 700,000 sworn officers. Local departments account for 468,000 full-time sworn officers.
About 11% of those officers are Black. That figure has remained constant over the past two decades, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. The share of Hispanic officers has grown from about 8% to 12.5% over that time, and they now outnumber Black cops. Both sets of numbers approximate the Black and Hispanic shares of the U.S. population.
Academics say it’s difficult to say how much racism and bias are connected to excessive use of force by police, but a 2019 study found that Black men are 2.5 times more likely than White men to be killed by police. Black women are about 1.4 times more likely to be killed by police than White women, the research showed.
Charles P. Wilson, chairman of the National Association of Black Law Enforcement Officers and a 45-year police veteran, said increasing the number of Black officers might change those odds.
He recounted the shooting death of Rashad Brooks, a Black man killed by a White officer in Atlanta this month.
Authorities say Brooks failed a sobriety test and resisted when officers tried to arrest him. One of the officers attempted to use a stun gun, but Brooks grabbed it and ran. Video shows Brooks turning back and aiming the stun gun at one of them, and the officer firing on Brooks.
Mr. Wilson spoke to about 30 members of his organization about the shooting, and they all said they would have handled it differently.
“Nobody that I know of as a Black officer would have taken that shot,” he said. “We look at things a little bit differently than our counterparts do. We treat people with respect and dignity due to every single human being.”
A major component of the debate is whether policing is systemically racist. Attorney General William Barr said he doesn’t see it, but several of the officers who spoke with The Times insist it pervades policing.
Terrance Hopkins, president of the Black Police Association of Dallas, said policing hasn’t been able to shake what he views as a legacy of racism.
The precursors to the modern police departments in America were slave patrol teams first formed in the 1700s in the Carolinas. Those patrols later assumed general law enforcement duties. The first publicly funded police department was formed in Boston in the 1830s.
“We know the history of this country as it relates to Blacks and Whites,” Mr. Hopkins said. “It only makes sense that those beginnings continue to manifest in today’s policing. We are still in a dominant conservative White male profession. That doesn’t mean that every one of them harbors that type of mentality, but that component is still there.”
Mr. Wilson said that “racism exists within every single department in the country.”
“It may only be one officer, but one is enough,” he said.
Chief Ramos said racism in police departments reflects a broader problem in America.
“Everything that is going on right now is being geared toward law enforcement,” she said. “The real truth is racism is a platform of how this nation was built. Instead of dealing with that, we are scapegoating law enforcement who are committed, highly motivated and trying to make a difference in every community that they serve.”
Mr. Wilson, who served as the first Black police chief of a Cleveland suburb, said several of his organization’s 9,000 members are embedded in the communities they serve and in some cases in the same communities where they grew up.
“We go on the job to try to make a difference in how people are treated in our communities,” he said. “We understand the issues, concerns, fears of people in those communities. We know for an absolute fact that a great proportion of their concern is real and factual.”
Yet that makes the insults against Black officers even worse.
“It does hurt more,” Mr. Wilson said. “Who [the protesters] see in their minds represents the failures of a system that is supposed to be protecting them.”
Despite the difficulties, Black cops aren’t leaving the force en masse like their White counterparts who say they feel unsupported by their communities and leaders.
Chief Ramos said she has had two resignations and one pending in the past month. All were White men who cited the anti-police climate for their resignations.
“Morale is lower with White officers. The reason being the Black officer is not under the microscope right now,” Mr. Hopkins said. “We are not the ones being accused of doing these things to unarmed Black men.”
Chief Ramos said there are incidents of black officers killing unarmed black men but the media ignore those cases.
“If a Black officer kills a Black unarmed person, the news won’t latch on that,” she said. “Just because it makes the news doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. It happens both ways.”
But the tension within police departments over toeing the blue line is tricky for Black officers, who have to try to explain their fellow officers’ behavior to a wary community.
“What are we going to tell kids because George Floyd complied with the police? He did everything they asked him to do, and they still killed him,” Ms. Coward said. “We still have to give our youth the message of compliance, but every time we take 10 steps forward, something happens that pushes us seven steps back.”
Ms. Coward said she has seen evidence that community outreach can help bridge gaps. She spent most of her career at Bolden Area Command station, in one of Las Vegas’ most notorious crime-ridden neighborhoods in the 1990s.
At the time, the neighborhood was in the midst of a violent crime wave fueled by gang and drug wars. Animosity toward cops was severe, and protesters burned down the original station house during rioting over the acquittal of Los Angeles police officers in the savage beating of Rodney King.
The command’s supervisors sought to change the dynamic by hosting community events. Officers hosted block parties, farmers markets and free haircuts. They even created an annual Christmas tradition of having Santa arrive in a police helicopter and be escorted by police officers dressed as elves.
“We policed them by offering things they didn’t have, and I knew they didn’t have them because I didn’t have them,” said Ms. Coward, who grew up in the same neighborhood.
Ms. Coward said that relationship-building paid off but acknowledged it took nearly 20 years for the effects to manifest. Still, after the 2014 death of Michael Brown, a young Black man who died in a police shooting in Ferguson, Missouri, there was no repeat of the 1992 riots.
Instead, citizens showed up to a community forum hosted by police to discuss the incident.
“They stopped seeing us as the same people bringing them to jail but as having a human side,” she said. “The same Metro helicopter looking for suspects is landing Santa, and that was huge. We’ve had 5,000 people attend an event.”
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Black conservatives counter Black Lives Matter ‘systemic racism’ narrative
The Black Lives Matter movement is dominating the headlines. But just as every action has an equal and opposite reaction, Black conservatives have never been more visible. From fresh faces like Diante Johnson and Rob Smith to greybeards like Shelby Steele and Robert Woodson, Black conservatives are everywhere, taking on the left and the Black…
The Black Lives Matter movement is dominating the headlines. But just as every action has an equal and opposite reaction, Black conservatives have never been more visible.
From fresh faces like Diante Johnson and Rob Smith to greybeards like Shelby Steele and Robert Woodson, Black conservatives are everywhere, taking on the left and the Black Lives Matter narrative in speeches, bestsellers, films, radio shows, podcasts and PragerU videos, as well as regular appearances on Fox News.
Such saturation didn’t happen overnight. Black intellectuals, media figures and activists have been gaining ground for years, but they were uniquely positioned to break out with the eruption in May of mass Black Lives Matter protests on the left spurred by the death of George Floyd.
“I think what caused the profile of Black conservatives to rise on this issue is that we are giving facts, and the media are avoiding facts,” said Larry Elder, a longtime Los Angeles-based radio host also involved in television and documentary filmmaking.
He disputes the contention that Black Americans are being hunted by racist police — “there’s no evidence suggesting they are doing so” — an argument that no White pundit, no matter how skilled, can deliver with the same resonance and credibility.
“Because the media is invested in this ‘systemic racism’ narrative, they can’t tell the truth,” said Mr. Elder, a familiar face on Fox News. “Democrats can’t tell the truth because they want Blacks to remain angry. So it’s up to Black conservatives to get out the facts. How ironic.”
His film “Uncle Tom,” an oral history of Black conservatives, topped the IMDB documentary list when it was released in June, and it’s still ranked in the top 10.
The documentary features a who’s-who of Black conservatives, from sages like Robert Woodson and Allen West, to rising stars like Candace Owens and Brandon Tatum, a former Tucson cop who hosts the popular “Officer Tatum” podcast and operates the Drudge-style Tatum Report.
“I’m happy very happy to see so many young Blacks finally living out of that ethic as individuals,” said Mr. Steele, a Hoover Institution senior fellow. “They’re brave people. They’re truly brave people. And they probably can’t get from one day to the next without five or six arguments with people all around them. But God bless them, they’re the future.”
New organizations are emerging. Four years ago, Mr. Johnson launched the Black Conservative Federation with a focus on Millennials. In 2018, Ms. Owens and Mr. Tatum launched the Blexit Foundation and the #Blexit hashtag, part of an effort to lead a “black exit” from the Democratic Party.
In June, Black pastors founded Conservative Clergy of Color to “call out the systemic racism that lies in the heart and history of the Democratic Party,” and released on Wednesday a corporate diversity training alternative called, “Getting to All Lives Matter.”
In a letter to federal officials using “white fragility” diversity programs, CCC co-founder Bishop Aubrey Shines said that the theory “pushed by self-proclaimed cultural scholars is only going to spread more divisiveness and distrust among your employees.”
“You are spreading lies that one ethnicity is inherently evil, and moreover, you’ve adopted these teachings out of fear, which is the worst kind of incentive,” said the letter.
‘Proud to be Republicans’
At the same time, the old guard appears to be undergoing a renaissance. In June, Thomas Sowell, a Hoover Institution senior fellow, economist, columnist and author, released “Charter Schools and Their Enemies” — shortly before his 90th birthday.
Other Black conservatives are increasingly prominent, including former Vanderbilt University Carol Swain; civil-rights attorney Leo Terrell; Project 21 chairman Horace Cooper, and Kay Cole James, who took over as head of the conservative Heritage Foundation in 2017.
Then there are radio hosts like David J. Harris Jr., author of the 2019 book “Why I Couldn’t Stay Silent: One Man’s Battle as a Black Conservative,” and SiriusXM’s David Webb, who was famously accused last year of having “White privilege” by a CNN analyst who didn’t realize he was Black.
The move to electing Black Republicans has been slower to follow. Sen. Tim Scott, South Carolina Republican, and Rep. Will Hurd, Texas Republican, are the only Black GOP members of Congress, and Mr. Hurd plans to retire after the election.
Mr. Steele said that may shift with the next generation. When he was young, he said, it was “inconceivable that you would shake hands with a Republican, and that’s changing.”
“There are Blacks today who are proud to be Republicans, and that’s a healthy sign,” he said.
Mr. Steele released Thursday the trailer to his upcoming documentary, “What Killed Michael Brown?” about the 2014 shooting of the 18-year-old Brown, who was Black, by White Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri, an episode that touched off mass rioting.
Mr. Steele’s conclusions are unlikely to meet with the approval of Black Lives Matter, which has argued that “systemic racism” is responsible for woes such as poverty, incarceration and police shootings, calling for government reparations and moving funding from police departments to social services.
“Their story line is that we’re all victims. White supremacy. Some esoteric arguments of how we’re all oppressed and demeaned and diminished constantly,” said Mr. Steele. “That’s an attempt to expand victimization.”
High-profile deaths of Black men at the hands of police “all seem to trigger the same sort of reflexive pattern in American life, particularly in the way they’re covered in the media,” he said.
“There’s this rush, this almost desperate frenzy to see the event an example of black victimization, to establish it as black victimization, and that in a sense becomes the argument,” said Mr. Steele on a Thursday press call. “That tells me at any rate that that’s where the power is.”
He contrasted that reaction with the muted response to the 762 homicides in Chicago in 2016, many if not most of which involved Black victims.
“In Chicago, 762 kids in one year killed. No national coverage at all,” said Mr. Steele. “It tells me again one of the ideas we try to bring to bear on these events is the idea of White guilt, which is relatively new phenomenon.”
Mr. Steele, 74, said that when he was growing up, “Whites didn’t feel guilty,” but today they do, and that the “rewards are immense” for Black people pushing the victimization narrative.
“We’ve used that power. The problem with that is that we do that at the expense of our own development as individual human beings in the modern world,” Mr. Steele said. “We continue to decline, and so all we’ve got left is to just work this victim thing as long as Whites will take it. And Whites feel so guilty that they take it.”
He urged Black Americans to identify with their citizenship instead of their race.
“We have to show courage in our own personal individual life,” Mr. Steele said. “Say it and be proud of saying that racism is dead, or damn near. There’s no one holding me back.”
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Black Lives Matter activists loot in Lancaster after cop kills charging suspect wielding knife
The police shooting of a knife-wielding suspect Sunday evening sent Black Lives Matter activists in The Keystone State into a frenzy of looting and property destruction. Lancaster County saw fires, bricks thrown through windows and a new round of looting after a male suspect identified as Ricardo Munoz was shot and killed after cops responded…
The police shooting of a knife-wielding suspect Sunday evening sent Black Lives Matter activists in The Keystone State into a frenzy of looting and property destruction.
Lancaster County saw fires, bricks thrown through windows and a new round of looting after a male suspect identified as Ricardo Munoz was shot and killed after cops responded to a 911 call.
BLM rioters are aggressively pounding on the police station in Lancaster, Pa. in response to the police shooting of a Latino man who charged at a cop with a knife. Video by @livesmattershow: pic.twitter.com/j4mZFSrkEx
— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) September 14, 2020
“The caller related that her brother was reportedly becoming aggressive with his mother and was attempting to break into her house,” Lancaster City Police Department wrote in a statement. “Several officers from the Lancaster City Bureau of Police responded to the call and the first officer arrived at 4:24 pm. The first officer on the scene walked to the front of the residence and made contact with a woman, who was identified as a family member. A male subject then exited the front door of the residence and began chasing the officer.”
Body cam footage released by the department shows the suspect chasing the responding officer with a large knife in his hand.
Warning: Strong Language.
Black Lives Matter instigators geared up in Kevlar are talking about how there will be no peace until they get results “one way or another” in Lancaster. pic.twitter.com/NG64Qc3qHy
— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) September 14, 2020
A local NBC affiliate detailed the unrest that followed the incident, which also spread across social media.
“People on the ramp, W. Chestnut St. and the park adjacent to the station threw water bottles, glass bottles, rocks, bricks, gallon jugs of liquids and parts of plastic road barricades at Officers,” the station reported. “OC spray was also deployed at protestors that refused to move from the ramp and were physically challenging Officers that were moving to clear people from the ramp.”
More than 100 people gathered before the riots broke out.
BREAKING: looting has started in Lancaster at Villa athletic store approximately 1 hour 50 minutes ago according to the shop ownerGroups of rioters are roaming the city breaking windows and stealing merchandiseIt was too dangerous to follow them since there are no police pic.twitter.com/FQIH57hccy
— ELIJAH RIOT (@ElijahSchaffer) September 14, 2020
Munoz also made headlines in March 2019 when he was charged with four counts of aggravated assault in connection with another stabbing; four victims were injured.
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Black Lives Matter protests drive Black police chiefs off the job
Two more high-profile Black police chiefs announced this week that they plan to step down amid protest unrest, spurring more questions about whether Black Lives Matter is hurting rather than helping Black Americans. In New York, Rochester Police Chief La’Ron Singletary said Wednesday that he refused to “sit idly by while outside entities attempt to…
Two more high-profile Black police chiefs announced this week that they plan to step down amid protest unrest, spurring more questions about whether Black Lives Matter is hurting rather than helping Black Americans.
In New York, Rochester Police Chief La’Ron Singletary said Wednesday that he refused to “sit idly by while outside entities attempt to destroy my character.” Dallas Police Chief Renee Hall submitted her resignation Tuesday after coming under criticism for her handling of anti-police protests.
They are departing a month after the retirement of Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best, the city’s first Black female chief, who fought for months to squelch protest rioting as the City Council, which has no Black members, voted to cut the department’s budget.
Black conservatives were quick to point out the irony. “There was a time in this country where systemic racism existed; and you couldn’t find a black police chief,” tweeted Allen Sutton, founder of Stewardship America.
“Now, black police chiefs are being forced out; by no less than the liberal establishment and Democrat party leaders,” he said. “Seattle? Rochester? Who’s next?”
Kentucky State University associate professor Wilfred Reilly associated Chief Hall’s resignation “at least in part to criticisms over how she handled interactions with (inevitably, majority white) #BLM protesters. This would be ironically hilarious, if it weren’t actually quite sad.”
Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County issued a statement criticizing the City Council after Chief Best retired. “Racism is racism,” it declared, but such views among protesters are in the minority.
The group Free the People Roc responded to Chief Singletary’s retirement by declaring “our movement for justice is winning,” while critics said the left’s objective is no longer promoting Black role models or law enforcement diversity.
“The race of the police chief is irrelevant if the endgame is that White people give Black people ‘their stuff,’ the chant recently made by street protesters in Rochester, New York,” Los Angeles radio talk show host Larry Elder said in an email.
Mr. Elder, who produced the 2020 documentary “Uncle Tom” about Black conservatives, noted that many major U.S. cities have Black mayors and police chiefs, but that “when there is a ‘questionable’ police shooting, people protest, and sometimes riot.”
“It should be abundantly clear by now that the protesters’ goal is not racial diversity within the police department,” Mr. Elder said. “Indeed, Black cops are denounced as Uncle Toms and sellouts. The goal is reparations, the redistribution of resources from one group — Whites — to another group, Blacks.”
Black police chiefs are hardly alone. More than a dozen chiefs have announced their departures since the start of mass protests over the May 25 death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody. In New York City alone, hundreds of officers have reportedly sought to retire early or leave the force.
Heading a police department is a stressful job, “particularly during this period of BLM where protesters are demanding police departments address the poor training of officers and procedures related to citizen review or oversight of complaints against officers,” said Portland State University professor Shirley Jackson.
“Black police chiefs are in an especially difficult position because they are in very visible positions at a time when police departments are under heightened scrutiny,” she said in an email. “While they may have their own individual reasons for resigning or retiring from their positions over the last few months, it is not improbable that they have different opinions about now necessarily what is to be done but how it is to be done.”
Black officers face uniquely stressful situations, as recounted in July by Portland Police Officer Jakhary Jackson, who said he had been called racial slurs by White activists and protests where Black cops outnumbered Black demonstrators.
“You’re at a Black Lives Matter protest. You have more minorities on the police side than you have in a violent crowd, and you have White people screaming at Black officers, ‘You have the biggest nose I’ve ever seen,’” Officer Jackson said at a July press conference.
For activists, the departures of Black chiefs and officers has the benefit of improving protest optics.
“All of these people get in the way of the narrative,” Fox Nation host Lara Logan said on “The Ingraham Angle.” “The narrative is that the entire police force is racist and needs to be abolished, so having a Black female police chief just gets in the way of that propaganda completely and makes a mockery of it.”
In fact, she said, Black police chiefs “who are a powerful symbol of what progress has been made in this country, those are the ones that have to go. They have to be targeted.”
On the other hand, Mr. Reilly said, many of the young activists probably have no idea as to the identity of the police chiefs but view law enforcement as “a vague edifice made up of wealthy white lords.”
“It is only in this context that the argument only Whites can be racist because only Whites hold power makes sense, after all,” he said in an email. “I’d guess the majority of protesters in huge cities like Dallas or Seattle were unaware that the [chiefs of police] and many top city brass were non-White, and would probably see them as ‘tools of the White power structure,’ or some such, if they knew this.”
‘What they want is Marxism’
Those who view Black Lives Matter as an effort to improve Black opportunity and achievement should remember that its roots are in the revolution, said Heritage Foundation senior fellow Mike Gonzalez.
“They don’t care about the individual and individual success. They want to change America. They want to change the American narrative,” Mr. Gonzalez said. “They’re on the record as saying they don’t want individual striving. They don’t want individual improvement. They don’t care about that. They think collectively.”
Patrisse Cullors, co-founder of what is now the Black Lives Matter Global Network, said in a 2015 interview that she and co-founder Alicia Garza were “trained Marxists,” while the agenda of the Movement for Black Lives includes defunding the police, defunding prisons, and reparations for prostitution and drug criminalization.
In a Sept. 4 article in Law & Liberty, Mr. Gonzalez quoted Ms. Garza speaking at a Zoom meeting in August with, among others, New York Times 1619 Project leader Nikole Hannah-Jones.
“Frankly, what we are able to do in this moment, that maybe weren’t as well-positioned to do four months ago, is use the opportunity of crisis to actually usher in a new way of being with each other,” Ms. Garza said, which would include “the ability to distribute resources in such a way where nobody gets left behind.”
Translated, “what they want is Marxism,” said Mr. Gonzalez, a goal he described as deleterious for Americans of all races.
“What they want is Marxism, and Marxism has a perfect record of failure,” he said. “It has not succeeded anywhere, and where it has been tried, everyone has been much worse off. It doesn’t help anybody of any color.”
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