The president of a group representing tens of thousands of law enforcement officers worldwide is apologizing for historic mistreatment of people of color in the United States.
Terrence Cunningham said at the International Association of Chiefs of Police annual conference Monday in San Diego that police have historically been a face of oppression in enforcing laws that ensure legalized discrimination and denial of basic rights.
AURN’s Kim Lampkins has more …
Reaction was mixed to Cunningham’s apology:
Leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement gave mixed reviews to the apology:
Campaign Zero co-founder DeRay Mckesson said Monday that he looks forward to seeing comments by International Association of Chiefs of Police President Terrence Cunningham backed up by deep, structural changes to policing and the criminal justice system.
Charlene Carruthers, national director for the Chicago-based BYP100, says an apology doesn’t go far enough. She says a major step toward solving the problem is taking financial resources away from law enforcement and redirecting them into community-based programs.
And, from fellow members of the law enforcement community:
Delrish Moss, who has been police chief of Ferguson, Missouri, since May and is black, said he had negative encounters with police when he was growing up, including being called racial epithets.
“There are communities that have long perceived us as oppressors, there are communities that have long perceived us as the jackbooted arm of government designed to keep people under control, and that’s one of the things we have to work hard to get past,” Moss said. “I’m glad it’s being addressed … because the only way to get past it is to first acknowledge the existence of it.”
Lt. Bob Kroll, head of the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis, thought Cunningham’s statement went too far. In his city, two white officers fatally shot a black man last November.
“Our profession is under attack right now and what we don’t need is chiefs like him perpetuating that we are all bad guys in law enforcement,” Kroll said. “I think it’s an asinine statement. … We’ve got officers dying on almost a daily basis now because of this environment, and statements like that don’t help.”
David Alexander III, police chief in Pensacola, Florida, said recognizing historical injustices is key to addressing race relations, just as acknowledging domestic violence was a step forward.
“When you don’t know the history and you say, ‘Well, there is no problem,’ then you pretty much present yourself as insensitive to the issues,” said Alexander, who is black. “The issue of racial tension has been a part of American history since its settlement.”
Cunningham’s comments came a day after FBI Director James Comey said that Americans “actually have no idea whether the number of black people or brown people or white people being shot by police” has gone up or down, or if any group is more likely to be shot by police, given the incomplete data available. That, as the FBI has announced last week that it will begin tracking fatal police shooting beginning next year.