El Paso Police Department Chief Greg Allen made a remark that was inflammatory, divisive, and inaccurate on Friday and potentially made a bad situation worse.
Before I go forward, I realize what I am going to write isn't popular and will likely make me more of a target than I already am.
But frankly, I don't care. Someone has to speak truth to power.
So before we go further, I'm not anti-cop. I'm anti- bad cop.
In fact, we should all be anti bad cop. The loudest voices against bad cops should be the over whelming majority of good cops.
On Friday civic leaders in El Paso held a press conference to discuss the events of the last week, both the unnecessary deaths of two black Americans that were killed at the hands of police and the deaths of police that were killed at the hands of a mad man.
El Paso Police Department Chief Greg Allen made a remark that was not only completely inconsistent with the facts, but it underscores the fact that Chief at least appears to have a confrontational and hostile attitude toward a group of people who will be holding a vigil on Sunday.
"Black Lives Matter, as far as I'm concerned, is a radical hate group and for that purpose alone I think the leadership of this country needs to look into the this group. The consequences we saw in Dallas are due to their efforts.'' - El Paso Police Chief Greg Allen
You can see a story done by Courtney Schoenemann of KFOX (Channel 14) about the remark:
Frankly in this day and age of access to information, it is unconscionable that Chief Allen is that misinformed about the Black Lives Matter Movement. His comments are potentially dangerous not only to the community, but to his officers.
BLM actually issued a statement on the shootings in Dallas that Chief Allen should read.
"Black activists have raised the call for an end to violence, not an escalation of it. Yesterday's attack was the result of the actions of a lone gunman,... To assign the actions of one person to an entire movement is dangerous and irresponsible. We continue our efforts to bring about a better world for all of us." -BLM Website
Chief Allen's comments were the exact wrong comments to make, at the exact wrong time to make them, and came from the city's highest law enforcement professional. How can anyone at the vigil (its not even being called a protest) feel safe under Allen's watch when he makes comments that are that hostile toward BLM?
In fact, hostile is the word I'd use to characterize Allen's demeanor throughout the news story. If someone being pulled over by Allen had that same hostile demeanor, I wonder would happen?
Allen's remarks and demeanor reflect negatively upon this community. Meanwhile the Chief of Police in Dallas who is also black had an entirely different and measured tone about the tragic events that unfolded in his city. And he made it clear that the gunman was unaffiliated with the Black Lives Matter movement. Before the shooting happened there were police walking along side the protestors and DPD was even taking and sharing video of the event.
It was a lone gunman who was deranged and evil. Period.
It wasn't a coordinated attack from a hate group. And anyone who demands accountability for bad officers isn't responsible for the acts of a mad man. It is our civic duty to engage our government and demand accountability. Yes Chief Allen, lest you forget, you work for us.
What I don't understand is why he even went to a press conference if he wasn't going to speak in the first place. Allen had an opportunity to say SOMETHING to the community that his department serves and protects and rather than address the community, he remained silent. That isn't leadership.
And when he does say something, he does the opposite of leadership and makes inflammatory comments that undermine the public's trust.
Thankfully Sheriff Wiles didn't echo his sentiments and in fact disagreed with Allen's characterization. Wiles gave the right message and delivered it in the right tone. It was the kind of thing the community needed to hear.
But where are our other elected officials? Particularly those from the City? The Chief answers tot he City Manager and not all of council, but individually they are all free to express their opinion. I certainly hope that Allen's remarks aren't reflective of what the City of El Paso feels toward peaceful protestors.
Until they say otherwise, Allen's remarks are the only ones from a city official. And that is sad because his remarks are not indicative of this community.
It was a bad person who killed those police officers who stepped up to protect even those who were critical of police. And it was bad cops that killed two black men this week.
We as a community should demand justice and accountability for all the lives lost.