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Blue Elephant in the Room

Cheryl Dorsey: Let's not pretend that the horrific police shootings in Dallas and Baton Rouge were a direct result of BLM protests. Let's stop pretending the police don't have a role to play in all of this violence.

After several days of much maligning of the Black Lives Matter movement with regard to recent police shootings, I think it is time to address the (blue) elephant in the room.

blue lives matter

Blue Elephant in the Room—Cheryl Dorsey

As a retired, twenty-year veteran sergeant of the Los Angeles Police Department and a black woman and mother of four black young men, I come from both worlds. Let me say, because there is often a lot of speculation about my police career, I spent the majority of my LAPD career working in field operations. That is in uniform, in a black and white, in patrol or patrol-related assignments. I was a police officer and a police sergeant—not a detective, behind a desk. I speak to this in my autobiographyThe Creation of a Manifesto—Black and Blue.

Having said that, I too am saddened by the loss of life on both sides; police and community. I am frustrated that there seems to be no end in sight. I am concerned that one of my sons could be stopped for some minor traffic infraction and then killed by an overzealous, drunk-with-power, ill-suited for the job police officer.

In the black community, our children—and in some cases our babies—are being killed with reckless abandon.

Let's not pretend that the horrific police shootings in Dallas and Baton Rouge were a direct result of BLM protests. Let's stop pretending the police don't have a role to play in all of this violence.

So, let's not pretend that the horrific police shootings in Dallas and Baton Rouge were a direct result of BLM protests. Let's stop pretending the police don't have a role to play in all of this violence. Let's address the [blue] elephant in the room.

Families of those killed by police with whom I have spoken, people who reach out to me on social media and my colleagues in the National Coalition of Law Enforcement Officers for Justice, Reform and Accountability, will not be silent about the root cause of the violence.

I DO NOT condone violence against police. I DO NOT condone violence by the police.

It is further troubling for the black community when someone like Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke and others try to blame BLM, which denounced the Dallas shooting. It continues to feel like a devaluation of black lives in pursuit of a scapegoat.

I think some black folks, especially those in law enforcement, think that they just took a test, passed it, and somehow magically ended up on the police force. Some black folks in law enforcement have enjoyed the benefits of affirmative action, promoted up the ladder only to shut the door behind them.

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I have worked with and for people who look like me on the police department who maintain the current system because it benefits them and theirs. Black police officers who are in a position of comfort and convenience not admitting that someone of consciousness and color put their body on the line to create that opportunity for them to even become a police officer.

There was a time, not to long ago on the LAPD when two blacks could not sit in the same police car. If not for the people of good will who stood, fought, and sacrificed, Clarke could not speak the way he does. Harriett Tubman said, "I freed thousands of slaves. I would have freed more if they didn't know they were slaves."

So I question the humanity of anyone who revels in the loss of life. Driving a car with a "busted tail light", "no front plate", "inoperable tail light" or selling items on a public street should not lead to a death sentence.

When white police officers confront armed white men in open carry states or pursue a white fugitive who shot and killed an officer, as did Eric Frein, the outcome is very different. White police officers almost lay down and expose their soft under-bellies to a confrontational, armed white man as they patiently listen to the agitator explain his 2nd Amendment rights.

Yet, we as a black community are repeatedly told that our black unarmed sons scare the police. We are tired of the police killing our children. We are frustrated because police departments circle the wagons and protect errant officers. We want accountability when officers violate department policy or law, escalate interactions to a deadly force shooting—see Redel Jones and Ezell Ford—and then lie to us. And some of us don't have the skill set to deal with those outcomes.

So let's take Michah Johnson at his word when he said during the Dallas standoff that he was NOT affiliated with any group and Gavin Long in Baton Rouge when he expressed on social media what appears to be his frustration with events occurring in the minority community.

To those who might act out similarly, I say "don't." Killing police officers is not helping. Killing police officers is wrong. Let's not create an environment whereby police departments justify militarization of their force.

Let's address the elephant in the room. Let's have honest and candid discussions on how to rebuild trust and improve the relationship between police and the minority community.

cheryl-dorsey-2016

It's time to include police officers who don't speak code talk, who are honest in their assessments and have lived experiences as both a minority and police officer from which to draw. As one step, it's time to invite members of the National Coalition of Law Enforcement Officers for Justice, Reform and Accountability to the table.

Cheryl Dorsey

@sgtcheryldorsey