Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Thin Black & Blue Line: Racial Politics in The Richmond Police Department

Richmond, CA is the ugly duckling among the four major Bay Area cities: a blue-collar city gone to seed. It's got the same left-wing politics as everyone else around here, but without the glamour of San Francisco, San Jose, or even (geesh) Oakland. About all you ever hear out of Richmond are stories about crime, lousy schools, and parochial unionism with the occasional oil refinery explosion thrown in (having said all that, I will concede there are some "nice" areas, and that some members of Psota's extended family live very well and happily there). 

The latest drama out of Ditch-mond? Seven police high-ranking police officers are suing the Department and the chief over complaints related to hiring and promotions. The details are pretty ugly...for the plaintiffs:

Between tales of one police captain dropping to all fours to yell "don't beat me" and black and white commanders angrily proclaiming they were being discriminated against, jurors got a stark depiction Thursday of a Richmond Police Department consumed with racial tensions in 2006 when Chris Magnus took over as chief. 
The revelations came as Magnus spent a second day testifying in a Contra Costa County Superior Court trial over a lawsuit claiming he had discriminated against seven high-ranking black officers. 
Plaintiffs' attorney Stephen Jaffe tried to make Magnus look like a disconnected leader who revealed racist bents in quips and favoritism, while the chief attempted to portray himself as working to dispel racial tensions that he found when he took the job. 
One of the most bizarre moments came when Magnus described an incident in which then-Capt. Cleveland Brown, one of the commanders suing him, came into his office to complain that he didn't want then-Capt. Lori Ritter to become deputy chief. 
Magnus said Brown had told him he thought Ritter - who, like Magnus, is white and a defendant in the trial - was a racist, and then had pantomimed his displeasure. 
"I remember him getting down on all fours and raising up his arms and saying, 'Don't beat me, Miss Lori!' " Magnus said. "It was kind of hard to tell if he was joking or if he was acting out a story.

He also said Brown had told him that "an African American captain shouldn't have to work for a white female."
Not surprisingly, "Captain" Brown was demoted soon thereafter. I would have wondered how such a clown could have become a police officer in the first place, let alone a commander. 

The linked article dances around this quite a bit, but it's pretty clear that the seven plaintiffs, who are all black, have brought this lawsuit because they didn't like life under a white chief who didn't blindly promote people out of concern for some racial spoils system. I'm assuming having everyone take a test, and then promote people based on  the test results would have been asking for too much. 

Endeavors like fighting crime, promoting police officers, and running a police department aren't that complicated. But, they become impossible when liberals are involved. 

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