of Lt. Col. Troy
of the St. Louis County Police Department is a reminder that Black
police officers, and even high-ranking police commanders, face racism
on a daily basis. Institutional racism and discrimination - and those
who bankroll white supremacy - remain obstacles to law enforcement
problem is real and in full view.
Black man and a 29-year police veteran, Doyle has served in numerous
roles and capacities and has fought racism within the department. And
he was president of the National
Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives
and a founder of the St. Louis County Police Department Police
filed a lawsuit
alleging County Executive Sam
backtracked on a plan to appoint him as the first Black police chief
of the department after Page received “push back” from
influential corporate donors. Those entities include the St.
Louis Police Foundation
- which provides funding to the St. Louis County and Metropolitan
police departments, and whose board consists mostly of white
corporate CEOs - and Civic Progress, now known as Greater
St. Louis, Inc.,
which represents the St. Louis business community.
who according to Doyle feared losing campaign contributions, was
reportedly “shocked” and felt like he was “living
in the ’60s,” based on these unnamed donors’
reactions to the prospect of Doyle as a Black police chief. These
individuals allegedly asked Page “what he was going to do with
the Black guy,” and hoped Page “didn’t make him
lawsuit claims “Plaintiff’s race and/or his opposition to
racially discriminatory conduct within the St. Louis County Police
Department was the motivating factor in Defendant’s decision
not to elect him for the chief of Police position.”
also alleges these donors exerted influence on the county Board of
Police Commissioners - who are appointed by the county executive and
approved by the county council - to select a white candidate. And a
white board member said the county did not “need” a Black
police chief, according to Doyle’s petition.
year, the board lowered the standards for the top cop job, now
requiring that candidates only hold the rank of captain rather than
lieutenant colonel. In the end, Captain Mary
a white woman of lower rank than Doyle, was appointed to lead the
force. Barton, whose brother-in-law was fired as a police dispatcher
for blasting the n-word over the radio, insists
there is no systemic police racism.
Ethical Society of Police,
an anti-racism organization formed by Black St. Louis officers in
1972, released a statement
saying Lt. Col. Doyle’s allegations “exemplify systemic
racism at its highest levels leveraged by corporate backers and their
foot on the neck of progress.”
is expensive,” former Missouri State Rep. Maria
“The totality of lawsuits claiming racial discrimination –
with a growing index of evidence – will probably amount to the
largest payout from a governmental entity the size of St. Louis
County in recent history. Buckle up for this ride.”
year, St. Louis County settled for $10.25
with a police sergeant who claimed discrimination because he is gay.
years of documented evidence of police brutality and misconduct in
melanin-infused communities, and discrimination within law
enforcement agencies, America now must grapple with the issue of
systemic racism in policing. From the 2014 death of Michael
in Ferguson, and
the following year, to the ambush murder of Breonna
and the choking death of
last year, the rise of Black Lives Matter has brought heightened
public awareness of an epidemic.
along with a Blue Lives Matter countermovement promoting white
supremacy and creating a false dichotomy between support for Black
life and support for the police.
the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection has forced America into a coming to
Jesus moment on white supremacists in law enforcement, and the racism
against Black police officers. During the insurrection, off-duty cops
were among the white mob, which also included enlisted soldiers,
veterans, militias, white supremacists and others that stormed the
seat of government, killed and maimed police officers and planned to
assassinate elected officials.
Capitol police officer Eugene
became a symbol that day, as he and other Black officers faced
violence and racial epithets from rioters carrying Trump 2020,
flags, even as they grappled with racial
from their own department.
white police officers coddle white supremacists and mass murderers
yet brutalize racial justice protesters, join hate
and participate in insurrections, it is no wonder communities of
color are catching hell.
a white man named Robert
was charged with murdering eight people, including six Asian American
women in Atlanta-area spas, allegedly yelling, “I’m going
to kill all Asians!” In a press conference, Cherokee County
sheriff’s Capt. Jay
humanized Long by saying the alleged gunman had a “bad
Baker had promoted a racist coronavirus-themed T-shirt on Facebook
with the words “imported
virus from Chy-na.”
don’t know if I run across white supremacists within the police
department, but I do run across people that have extreme views, and
they may agree with a lot of views of people that may identify
themselves as white supremacists,” said Sgt.
the current President of the Black
Shield Police Association
in Cleveland and a 12-year veteran of the Cleveland police.
at the 16th
Annual Harry Frank Guggenheim Symposium on Crime in America
at John Jay College, Montague
that the racial tensions in police departments have become more
public in recent years.
things like that are real. And you do see Caucasian officers,
particularly Caucasian male officers, they show more empathy to
people, whether it’s an insurrection, whether it’s a
homicide, whatever. You definitely see that, and you see the lack of
empathy they show towards a Black person that could have just been
arrested for a misdemeanor crime.”
professor of sociology at Brooklyn College and author of “The
End of Policing,”
which calls for the abolition of police, says rooting out the
insurrectionists will not fix this.
fact is that this is a profound political problem and that the
problem of this white supremacist violence is being funded by
billionaires, is being enabled by members of Congress and the Senate,
and at the time the president of the United States,” Vitale
singling out Robert
the Scaife family and others who fund right-wing talk radio, Qanon
websites and congressional candidates.
will also point out that police have always had very high
representation in white supremacist and extreme right-wing
organizations, from the KKK to the John Birch Society to
anti-communist leagues. This has always been at the center of
policing as an institution, and there are reasons for that rooted in
their existence as violence workers,” Vitale added.
racism exists within the St. Louis County Police Department,”
Lt. Col. Doyle recently told the St.
Louis County Council,
pointing to a problem arising from the founding of the department in
1955. “As much as it pains me to say that, it must be publicly
stated in order for us to begin the healing process and start the
process of building trust in our communities.”
This commentary was originally published by The Grio