The month of August has been a tough one for police departments across the country as five officers lost their lives in the line of duty due to gunfire, according to the Officer Down website.
These shooting deaths have sent Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson and Sheriff Ron Hickman on a campaign to discredit the police accountability movement, blaming the movement and its anti-police sentiment for the death of Harris County sheriff’s deputy Darren Goforth.
The death of Goforth was the most recent in the shootings against law enforcement officers. According to abc13.com, Goforth was killed, execution-style, while filling his car with gas after finishing a call. The suspect, Shannon J. Miles, was arrested early Saturday morning after deputies say his truck matched the killer’s truck and ballistics from the shooting matched Miles’ gun.
However, Miles’ mother says her son was shopping with her at the time of the shooting. Miles was charged with capital murder and may receive the death penalty, if convicted.
Following Miles’ arrest, the Harris County law enforcement community used a press conference to insinuate the police accountability movement may be responsible for the actions of Miles, who is black.
Hickman said the motive for the killing had not been determined but investigators would look at whether Miles, who is black, was motivated by anger over recent killings elsewhere of black men by police that have spawned the “Black Lives Matter” protest movement. Officials say Deputy Goforth had no previous interaction with Miles.
Harris County Sheriff, Ron Hickman, had this to say at the press conference held following the shooting:
“…at any point where the rhetoric ramps up where calculated, cold blooded assassination of police officers happen, this rhetoric has gotten out of control. We’ve heard black lives matter, all lives matter. Well, cop’s lives matter too. So why don’t we just drop the qualifier and say lives matter and take that to the bank.”
Hickman’s comments were followed by more of the same from District Attorney Devon Anderson:
“It is time for the silent majority in this country to support law enforcement. There are a few bad apples in every profession. That does not mean there should be open warfare declared on law enforcement. The vast majority of officers are there to do the right thing, are there because they care about their community and want to make it a safer place. What happened last night is an assault on the very fabric of society. It is not anything that we can tolerate. It is time to come forward and support law enforcement and condemn this atrocious act.”
The comments were a clear jab against the national outcry for more accountability in law enforcement and particularly the Black Lives Matter movement. Anderson and Hickman have used this police officer’s death as a way to push their agenda to discredit and silence the movement towards more over-site of police departments across the country.
Their comments failed to mention the 101 American citizens who were gunned down by police officers this August, including a man who had been shot and killed the same day as Goforth while holding his arms in the air in San Antonio, only about three hours away from where they were holding their press conference in Houston.
They also forgot to mention how the wide spread corruption within the nation’s police departments are tearing at the fabric of our society or how the silent majority are tired of making excuses for the bad behavior of cops as well as criminals.
The statements made by Anderson and Hickman show the true nature of the Harris County style of policing, blaming others for the bad behavior of a criminal. A style of policing that accuses members of the public who are critical of corruption of being responsible for the death of a police officer.
They are angry that their fellow officer was gunned down. They are angry that the climate of the country strips them of the blind support that they enjoyed for so many unchecked years. They are angry. They are in shock. And they are lashing out at the public they serve.
Their comments don’t stop at blaming a movement for the death of a cop. Anderson goes on to demand the public’s blind support of law enforcement as a way of condemning this murder.
As an active member of the police accountability movement, I am offended by the rhetoric from Anderson and Hickman. I have been documenting the bad behavior of public servants for many years and never once have I longed for the execution of a police officer. I have never promoted violence or supported waging war against the police. I have never shot a cop. I don’t plan on shooting a cop. A I would certainly condemn someone who did shoot a cop for any other reason than in self-defense.
I live in Louisiana where three police officers were shot down in the month of August. Thomas LaValley was the first to die after responding to a “potential prowler” call. LaValley’s death was followed by the death of state trooper Steven Vincent, who was shot after offering assistance to the suspect who shot him. Sunset Officer Henry Nelson died two days later after being shot by a suspect who had just stabbed a woman to death.
All of these shootings were met with a huge outpouring from the entire Louisiana community. These deaths, and the events that led up to them, were condemned by everyone I know, and I know many accountability activists.
The death of Trooper Vincent affected me personally as he was from my hometown, grew up with my husband and was respected by many people from my community, including me. I was devastated by his loss. Still am. I didn’t think he deserved to die. I condemn the man who shot him. I want justice in this case as much as his fellow officers and the prosecutors who will pursue this case. I didn’t shoot him and I didn’t become apart of a movement that would promote shooting him.
I happen to believe that police departments from around the country are waking up to the idea of transparency and accountability. I think that is a direct result of citizens who have stood tall in the face of corrupt law enforcement agencies to demanded change. Without the increased involvement of citizens who now realize the importance of video recording police interactions, protesting incidents of abuse, and filing lawsuits against those departments who violate the rights of the pubic they serve, we would not be hearing the rhetoric from Sheriffs like Hickman and district attorneys like Anderson.
Without the increased involvement of citizens we would have never seen an arrest in the Walter Scott or Sam Dubose shooting. We would likely have never known what happened to either of these men.
Thanks to the rhetoric from activists, the old “he reached for my gun” narrative doesn’t garner the blind support of members of the public like it once did. The positive changes in holding police accountable for their actions has undoubtedly left Hickman and Anderson looking for a way to return to the bullshit of the past, and demand respect from their community instead of earning it.
I realize I do not speak for everyone in the police accountability movement. I know there are those activists who may not agree with my sentiments towards the deaths of police officers. I also know how much courage it takes to speak out agains police corruption. I know that it is my right to believe what I want. I know this holds true for all of us.
I also know activists who believe an uprising is the only way to change the course of our country and I know this part of the movement seems to be growing larger as the corruption continues. I am not a supporter of using physical force to bring the change we seek but I do believe everyone has a right to an opinion.
I also still believe in the system of redress in America and think the comments made by an angry sheriff and district attorney is not part of the change we are seeking. No, that rhetoric is a perfect example of the “us versus them” attitude we are trying to change.