…at yesterday’s Baton Rouge Metro Council meeting.
At issue was the foolish proposal by council member Chauna Banks-Daniel to impose a residency requirement on the officers of the Baton Rouge Police Department, an idea which had already been rejected at a council meeting two weeks earlier and was clearly short of a majority in support. She brought the proposal anyway, and couldn’t get a vote on it. Instead, the Council simply let the debate on the proposal go on until the clock ran out on the meeting.
Council rules indicate that meetings cannot last past 8:00. The debate on the proposal ran all the way up to that time.
From the start it was clear there were not seven votes in favor of a residency requirement. That didn’t stop all the usual suspects from lining up to fire away at the Metro Council and make the usual accusations of racism and inequity. From Andrea Gallo’s report in The Advocate…
Throughout the emotional and racially charged debate Wednesday, mostly black members of the public pleaded with Metro Council members to understand the racism they feel in their daily lives and said having a police force whose officers who live in their parish would make them feel safer.
“The problem is, if you’re going to continue to ignore us, then you’re going to continue to have problems like we’re having on that Sunday,” said speaker Aaron Banks, referencing gunman Gavin Long’s deadly shooting rampage on law enforcement officers the morning of July 17. Several people in the audience gasped when Banks made the comment.
“And it’s the God’s honest truth,” he continued. “Because it’s going to take more of us, the black community, to start policing each other and policing each other from the BRPD and East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Department.”
Banks then spoke about Sterling and whether any evidence showed he had a gun or if he had been reaching for one when police killed him. Sterling’s aunt, Sandra Sterling, also attended the meeting but did not speak.
Boé asked for Banks to stay on-topic, saying debates about whether Sterling was armed were unrelated to police residency requirements. Audience members fumed over Boé’s request, and Wicker — who ran the meeting in Mayor Pro Tem Chandler Loupe’s absence — said she would not stop Banks from speaking about Sterling.
Then, the clownish race hustler Rev. Reginald Pitcher found a microphone and promptly made things worse…
The Rev. Reginald Pitcher said those pushing the proposal need to stop pretending residency requirements are not a racial issue. Pitcher, who nevertheless backs the requirements, spoke of the history of racism in Baton Rouge and how race permeates most local issues.
Council member John Delgado later said Pitcher was “the only one who got up at the microphone and told what I think was the truth” because Delgado agrees that the residency proposal is racially motivated, a statement that incited another round of outbursts from the crowd.
And here’s a piece de resistance…
“Y’all could leave here right now and somebody angry cause of all of this could kill you,” said a woman identified only as Nefertiti. “Then what? It might not be serious now but I guess it would be serious then. … The change is important, what we’re asking for is very important. … We don’t want anybody else to get killed, white, black, police, no police, enough is enough.”
It probably goes without saying that making threats of more Matthew Geralds, Brad Garafolas and Montrell Jacksons – a reference to the three lawmen gunned down in black nationalist nut Gavin Long’s deadly mid-July rampage – would be less likely to produce a residency requirement. And if it did, the effect wouldn’t be more Baton Rouge cops living in Baton Rouge but less Baton Rouge cops, period.
The city’s police force is some 50 officers short of a full complement as is, and with fewer policemen than needed now there is no way to institute the kind of community policing practices that would actually allow for a force the black community in the city would feel protects and serves, rather than arrests and tickets.
That’s the real issue affecting the citizens, and most specifically the black citizens, of Louisiana’s capitol city. Unfortunately the leadership of Baton Rouge’s black community seems more interested in pushing racially divisive measures than actually addressing real problems.
Because the residency requirement was deferred, it could be brought up again at the Metro Council meeting in two weeks. And the same race-hustling cavalcade will descend on the council chamber.
It won’t pass then, either.