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Exclusive: Infighting Amongst Blacks In Law Enforcement Over Video Of White Cop Punching Black Teen

June 19, 2010

A few days ago The Black Law Enforcement Association Of Washington publicized the organization’s position on the conduct of a white Seattle Police officer who sucker punched a black teenage girl, an incident which of course was caught on camera and has ignited a firestorm (while also creating a three ring circus).

The statement was a first, on-record opinion specifically by an organization representing Black cops.  It read in part:

“This incident was unfortunate and clearly the behavior and actions by both females was embarrassing,” said the statement. “As regrettable as it looks, the officer had used great restraint in dealing with the female that had pushed him. He maintained a professional demeanor while in an adverse and potentially volatile situation.”

Yes, BLEAW sided with the officer and said his conduct did not amount to excessive force.

Days later, in a typical case of not-all-Black-people-think-alike, the National Black Police Association, of which the Black Law Enforcement Association Of Washington is a registered chapter/member has released their own statement accusing the officer- and SPD- of excessive force.  The feel strongly enough about this they plan to send a “delegation” to Seattle to address it.  It’s a stunning example of conflicted feelings and perspectives Blacks in law enforcement have on the issue.  The national office is definitely rebuking the Washington state chapter by releasing their own statement against the officer.

From the NBPA press release:

“The June 2010 incident that captures a white Seattle Police Department officer cocking his arm back and punching a black female in the face is an example of excessive force by Seattle Police. The fact that Seattle Police Officers Guild President Rich O’Neill came out in support of the officer’s handling of the  jaywalking incident further polarizes relations between the Seattle Police Department and black and Mexican communities in the Seattle area. Recall, that in recent months, two Seattle Police officers are seen on video beating a handcuffed man of Mexican descent and that one of the officers is heard shouting racial epithets.  Recall that in that incident the man had been wrongly detained and had not committed a crime.The June 2010 jaywalking event is about psychological screening of police applicants, as much a training issue as it may be one of racial animus, but we don’t know if it was racially motivated.  What we do know is that relations between Seattle Police officers and black and Mexican communities are very much strained.”

In all the press release is extremely…long.  While it claims they will send, or intend to send, a delegation to Seattle, the release doesn’t include any details about such a trip.

Interestingly enough though, one of the current Board members for the 2010-2012 leadership term is SPD’s own Lt. John Hayes, a well respected member of the force for years.  Aside from Board Member for the NBPA he is also listed as Immediate Past Chairperson.

Because it’s the weekend, SPD’s media response isn’t available to weigh in on this with any clarification about Lt. Hayes’ direct involvement in crafting the NBPA’s statement or what his personal perspective is on the actions of the officer in question.

That said, this new development is just the latest in the never-ending stream of opinions, reports and perspectives.

It’s unfortunate the NBPA is choosing to make this about the cop and only the cop, when the truth is, all citizens need to know, understand and respect acceptable rules of engaging police officers, top of the list is comply, comply, comply.  They could have taken this opportunity to reinforce that message but chose not to- not unlike some of our local Black organizations.

Their trip to Seattle, should they make it, will be interesting.

One Comment leave one →
  1. June 22, 2010 1:54 pm

    Your commentary and support is greatly appreciated. It was a complete shock to our local organization (BLEAW) that the National office, would make a comment on the incident without consulting the local chapter. We are a viable chapter and active within the organization. Our immediate past president, John Hayes is also the immediate past national chairman of the NBPA. The national office failed to seize the opportunity to address the core issue and instead resorted to inflammatory rhetoric! As the local chapter president, I am well versed in the procedure regarding issuing statements from our organization, since I have served on the national board of directors previously. Their statement gives the appearance that BLEAW is ineffective or not capable of addressing local issues. Unbelieveable!

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