In the latest issue of the San Francisco Police Officers Association journal, union president Martin Halloran implores whomever is reading to follow the advice of Dallas Police Chief David Brown and “[b]ecome a part of the solution. Serve your community. Don't be a part of the problem.”
Halloran goes on to say “recent acts of cowardly cold blooded murder of police officers have the potential to drive a wedge between law enforcement officers and the communities that we serve.”
It’s good advice, and he’s right about the impact those recent police officer deaths in Dallas and Louisiana are having on cities and towns across the country.
“But we will not let this happen,” Halloran continues. “We refuse to. Instead, we will continue to work hand in hand to forge ahead, to promote peace within our community and unity in our cities.”
[jump] That sounds like a wonderful approach, one that’s impossible to argue with. So why then, in the very same edition, did the union journal print a photo of two dogs with signs around their necks saying “Black labs matter” and “All labs matter,” accompanied by these words: “Maybe it’s time we all just sit back and tone down the rhetoric…”?
The photo and sentence, of course, are a jab at the Black Lives Matter movement, which was formed in 2013 after George Zimmerman was acquitted in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin in Florida.
If you read stories like this, this, and this, Black Lives Matter makes sense. (And that’s only a small sample size, mind you, of the cringe-inducing stories about SFPD that have surfaced in the past few years.) But the SFPOA doesn’t think so.
Yulanda Williams, the SFPD sergeant who heads the group representing non-white cops called Officers for Justice, perhaps put it best when she told the Chronicle the dog photo “once again shows a severe lack of understanding” on the SFPOA’s part. “It’s so inflammatory, and they still don’t get it. They still choose to inflame situations, and it’s just really insulting.”
Of course no one at the union or in SFPD would comment to the Chronicle. Halloran simply said to listen to some radio ad going around in which he basically says the same stuff as he wrote in the journal.
It would seem to go without saying that violence against police is the absolute worst approach to solving the tensions between cops and communities nationwide. Activists themselves condemn such attacks. But reactions like that of the SFPOA aren’t helping anyone either. Clearly there are and have been racist and bigoted police not just in SFPD but everywhere. Denying that is damaging as well. It just means the cycle will never end. Doesn’t all this sound obvious?