Richmond, Calif., Police Chief Chris Magnus, who gained nationwide attention for holding a sign reading “BlackLivesMatter” at a peaceful protest in his city, came under fire Friday by his department’s rank-and-file for holding the placard while in uniform, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
The incident occurred Tuesday when Magnus and several other police officers, including Deputy Chief Allwyn Brown, who was also in uniform, attended a demonstration, the report says. #BlackLivesMatter is a protest call that surfaced after grand juries declined to indict White police officers for killing two unarmed Black men, Eric Garner, 43, in New York City and Michael Brown, 18, in Ferguson, Mo.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports:
The Richmond Police Officers Association said members were not upset by the message, but by the fact that Magnus was wearing his uniform when he attended a Tuesday demonstration on Macdonald Avenue. The message on his sign is one of the rallying cries that emerged after grand juries in Missouri and New York declined to indict white police officers for killing two unarmed black men.
The union said the chief’s actions violated the state’s Government Code, which states that “No officer or employee of a local agency shall participate in political activities of any kind while in uniform.”…
“Police chiefs are not above the law,” Wilkinson said. “While many may admire the chief for proactively engaging with the community on one of the most significant political issues of the day, by doing so in uniform he violated the very laws he is sworn to uphold.”
Magnus fired back at his critics, the Chronicle says, asking, “When did it become a political act to acknowledge that ‘black lives matter’ and show respect for the very real concerns of our minority communities? This should not be about ‘us versus them.’ It should be about finding ways to build bridges and address the schism that exists between many of our residents and police.”
We agree. The complaints by the department’s rank-and-file officers against Magnus are nothing short of ridiculous. The racist and divisive attitudes of the membership serves as an exclamation point on why the nation is at such a dangerous crossroads over race relations.
Like Magnus, we’d like to know when it became a political act for a White officer to acknowledge that #BlackLivesMatter, especially in the minority community he or she serves?