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.”
• Valerie Richardson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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