Sheriff Rochelle Bilal has advice for cops who, as Joy Reid describes, react defensively rather than reflectively to the protests over George Floyd and the centuries of police brutality. (Warning: Video begins with graphic police violence.)
June 6, 2020

Joy Reid had a stellar panel on to discuss police brutality and the protests that have developed nationwide over the police killing of George Floyd. The first to speak was Rochelle Bilal. She is the first Black person, and the first woman to be elected to lead the Sheriffs Department of Philadelphia County, after having been a police officer for 27 years. When Reid asked her to comment on the state of police forces around the nation, she began with Buffalo, NY.

You may have already seen the awful story about two police officers in Buffalo, NY shoving a 75-year-old male protester to the ground, knocking him immediately unconscious, and causing blood to pour out of his ear onto the sidewalk. One cop stopped to appear to check on him, and another grabbed him from behind and pushed him to keep on walking right on by.

The two officers were removed from their positions without pay, and in protest/solidarity with the two violent cops, all 57 members of their unit RESIGNED. Today we learn the two have each been charged with second degree assault. The other 57 should be charged with being jack-booted thugs, but laws against that are probably not written into New York's constitution. Of course, though, that defensiveness is not singular to New York. Reid asked Sheriff Bilal why, when criticized for brutality, police react defensively rather than reflectively?

BILAL: That's the great -- first of all, thank you for having me. That's the great divide. It has been in our culture and its institution for such a long time. As far as those officers, those fifty resigning out of protest, I would say that, "Bye, Felicia," because they SHOULD go. Because if they didn't see anything wrong with that, then they shouldn't have been on the force from the beginning. We are not run by a gestapo group of people in our communities. We cannot have that type of behavior. This has been going on for decades. So at this point now we should be fighting for those who want to be on this job to treat people fairly, and for those who don't, say bye. Get them out of here, because those of us who want to do this job right want them gone anyway.

WELP. Who disagrees with her? NOT I. And three cheers for her calling them Gestapo. The Yahoo News article linked above notes that there were throngs of supporters — for the officers! — when the two cops were brought to court, and they cheered like mad when they left the court building. Watch that video and picture hundreds of police officers cheering for these two cops. Sickening.

Joy Reid then asked Sheriff Bilal why officers don't seem to say anything in the moment when they witness this kind of illegal behavior and cruel violence on the part of their peers. More straight talk.

BILAL: I spent 27 years on the Philadelphia police department. It takes courage to stand up. It takes courage to stand up and stop the nonsense. It takes courage. You got to know who you are as a person. This job that you got, if they somehow get to you, you can do something else other than do this job. So it takes courage to stand up.
If you want to be a law abiding citizen, if you want to be a police officer sworn to protect, then your job is to pull out, call out, stand up against those who take this institution for granted and do wrong to the community in our neighborhoods or in our community at large. I'm saying this. I'm Black first. I wore a blue uniform. I wear black -- some people wear black uniforms. I'm Black first, I'm a human being and when people in law enforcement treat human beings in that manner they should be gone, and I'm saying this to all of them.
Protests is in our DNA. We had to protest to get here where we are today. We need to keep protesting until we have equality and fair treatment under the law, like our constitution says it's supposed to be. So let them boys, Bye, Felicia, let them go.

There is your answer. Either those cops who say nothing are cowards, or they are okay with it. Sheriff Bilal is a shining example of why gender and racial diversity matter at the top.

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