(I am not denying that there is a huge problem with how black men are treated by the criminal justice system in the United States here - there is a problem. I'm only attempting here to outline a local El Paso political situation that has nothing to do with a broader national problem. So please don't get off topic in the comments below.)
El Paso's police chief is under attack from the Shapleigh Campers because he doesn't care for the Black Lives Matter (BLM) group. The most important thing you need to understand here is that this is all about wrestling power away from the city and giving it to the county. Remember, the Shapleigh campers have no influence over at the city these days. They used to own the mayor, most council members, city manager and deputy city managers. They don't have anyone these days and it bothers them greatly.
I've told you that the Shapleigh Camper controlled county commissioner's court has been trying to fire the city manager, emasculate the mayor and infiltrate the midlevel management at the city so they can start taking powers away. You see, on paper, in Texas, county governments have all the power. That's not the case when you have a city as large as the county. The city has all the dough and all the influence. The Shapleigh Campers can't get back into the city, so they just want to transfer all the fun stuff to the county where they run things.
Firing the police chief and putting the county sheriff in control of the city police force is the goal here. I must admit - I suggested this when I ran for office - a combining of services in order to save taxpayers money and reduce bureaucracy. I did not, however, want to do this in order to give one political faction a more powerful hand than other groups. My motive was YOU. Their motive is THEM.
Let's talk about what the chief said and what it really means... and why he might have said it.
You need to look at BLM from the eyes of a cop for a second. A cop who just got the news that five of his cop brothers were murdered. (Don't for a second pretend there isn't a bond between cops that runs deep - because it's real and it's not something outsiders can understand.) I'm sure the Police Chief does not blame BLM directly for the actions of a lone coward. However, he probably is frustrated at the rhetoric from BLM that gives encouragement to people like the lone coward. Let me explain.
BLM has two main tactics for communicating their issue. First, they protest. Second, they utilize the principle of disruption you hear so much about the tech innovation world. They quite literally disrupt events by charging the stage and taking the microphone to talk about their issues. While it's annoying for the audience on hand, it gets the job done - they made the news.
BLM is a loosely organized group of people who share a common cause, but not a common manner of reaching a resolution to their problem. Some BLM groups are orderly, peaceful groups who walk through the streets of their city calling for change. Other BLM groups organize protests that turn into riots. Pinning a single identity on BLM is tough given the difference in how their many representatives act.
And let's be honest about how cops feel about BLM - they think they are misguided liars who blame all cops for the actions of an extreme few. BLM was responsible for escalating the Ferguson incident by spreading what turned out to be absolute lies. The human and property damage owed to their inability to tell the truth about what happened was significant. Police officers around the country were horrified to see how a propaganda campaign based on lies could unfairly tarnish their reputations. So, you'll have to excuse the Chief if he doesn't care for a group that puts all cops in a bad light.
There's also the fact that BLM does not actively quash the more radical and violent members of their groups. These people use the BLM events and influence to call for the murder of police officers. This kind of rhetoric will inspire nut jobs to do what that nut job did in Dallas. Nobody denies that fact. Cops take these calls for their murder very seriously because they know someone will be inspired to do it. The fact that BLM does nothing to regulate this behavior at their events calls into question their judgement and in the end, their morals.
Let's say that I hosted a once a week town hall style Republican meeting where I provided a microphone and general organization and it was open to everyone. Let's say that a group of people came and called for the murder of all Democrats. As the organizer I have two options here:
- I bar them from being a part of the meeting.
- I stop holding the meeting.
If option one works - great. However, if they come back every week and use my meeting as conduit for their hate and violence, it's up to me to shut that down by literally pulling the plug.
BLM doesn't exercise option one or two at this point. Sure, after things go all wrong they issue a statement - which they've have to do several times. But they never say to themselves "hey, we are giving a voice to people with hate in the hearts and maybe it's time we stop doing that and find a different way." They know what's going to happen, yet they do nothing to stop the people calling for the murder of cops.
So maybe that's why a lot of people in law enforcement don't have a high opinion of BLM. I think the local elected officials need to understand that BLM is a group that routinely gives crazy people a microphone and an audience. If someone was calling for your murder, I'm not sure you be any more sympathetic to them than the Police Chief was to BLM.
Now to reality.
The El Paso politicians that hit out at the Police Chief are on the wrong side of their constituency here. Earned or not, most El Pasoans don't think much of BLM. Especially after what happened in Dallas. I venture that most El Pasoans are happy with what the Police Chief said.
Second, no cop respects those local electeds anymore. You don't attack their chief for expressing an opinion they all share. As you saw with the firefighters, they are a powerful force in the community when it comes to politics. I'd hate to be the candidate that has every cop's family in the city telling everyone they know that you hate cops.
And it doesn't help that the Police Chief is black. He's got a license a guy like me doesn't qualify for in these matters.
It also doesn't help that El Paso doesn't not have a problem between cops and the community. As they state all the time "El Paso is one of the safest cities in the country." Locals are looking around and they're pretty happy. They don't want protesters crashing through the streets calling for the murder of cops. They're happy with what they have. Case in point - in the El Paso Times article one local elected claims that the chief was going to keep the local BLM chapter from having a peaceful protest in San Jacinto park... The only problem with that claim is that they are having a vigil, not a protest. Big difference. And do you know why they are having a vigil instead of a protest? BECAUSE EL PASO POLICE DO NOT MURDER BLACK MEN. It would be idiotic to protest something that doesn't happen in El Paso.
And that brings me to the real issue here. The local politicos have been blowing up social media on gun control and BLM, but they fail to address the many problems El Paso DOES have. Here are a few off the top of my head:
The diabetes problem is astoundingly awful and you're losing good people to an awful disease fast. Something must done at the hyper-local level to save people's lives.
El Paso is poor. Really really really poor. People in El Paso are stuck with little or no hope because not enough is being done to build a stronger economy. Anybody who does get a little hope in the heart leaves town.
The state education system being applied to El Paso schools isn't effective. Something must be done to tweak the approach so that El Paso schools don't have to cheat to meet the standards.
I think it's awful that these politicians want to play "look at me politics" when there are El Paso specific problems they need to fix.
(Again, I'm not saying that black men are not being devastated by criminal justice system here. Please focus on the facts here.)