Fort Worth Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald Targets Black Officers Instead of focusing on Officer William Martin's Racist Conduct

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Officer Martin abusing his uniform and badge

Instead of focusing on the racist conduct of officer William Martin who assaulted and falsely arrested members of a Black family the Texas Fort Worth Police Department is currently targeting two high-ranking Black officers for allegedly leaking a video of the December 21 incident involving Martin.

Martin had ignored a Black woman's complaint about her young son being choked by a White neighbor and arrested the woman and her daughters instead. 

Rather than termination for his egregious conduct or even desk duty until the a grand jury proceeding is completed Fort Worth Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald merely suspended Martin for 10 days and wants him to go back patrolling the same neighborhood. Tell me this in itself is not a way to derail a grand jury proceeding by sending the message that Martin's actions were not that serious.

Now going after Black officers for the supposed leak of a video of the incident is another way to deflect attention away from Martin's misconduct.

It’s ironic that police departments, who are usually busy making excuses for any abhorrent behavior by the officers—especially, when it relates to racist attacks on Black people—took such an action like this against these Black officers.

Whether the Black officers are involved in the leak or not, such an action is meant to remind cops that they are expected to aid-and-abet in the cover-up of criminal actions of fellow officers. By targeting the Black officers is Fort Worth also suggesting that White officers would not leak such video because they condone Martin's actions?

How do these racism-plagued police departments expect to inspire trust when they do everything to evade and avoid public transparency? It was recently reported that the Fort Worth Police relieved high-ranking police administrators Assistant Chief Abdul Pridgen and Deputy Chief Vance Keyes of their commands amid accusations that they leaked the police video showing the egregious arrest of Jacqueline Craig and her two daughters last December by Officer Martin. Craig had called police after her seven-year-old young son was apparently assaulted by a White neighbor, an adult male, for allegedly littering his lawn. Craig became, rightly, irate after Officer Martin sided with the White neighbor.

Officer Martin told Craig: "Why don't you teach your son not to litter?"

After Craig protested the idiotic comment made by this officer, Martin then assaulted Craig and arrested her to cover up his misconduct. When one of Craig's daughters, a 15 year-old, tried to deescalate the situation by calming her mother down, Martin arrested her too. Subsequently, after getting more that an earful from Craig’s older daughter, who is 18 and was livestreaming the incident, Martin arrested her too. All the three women were charged with resisting arrest and interfering with public duties; the White neighbor who choked the boy wasn't arrested or charged.

Afterwards, Chief Fitzgerald defended the indefensible conduct of this officer by saying: “What I can say is that I noticed in the video that the officer was rude. And there is a difference between rude and racist.”

How about being both racist and rude in his conduct?

Both Assistant Chief Pridgen and Deputy Chief Keyes have been placed on “detached duty,” which means they must remain at home during work hours and cannot function as police officers. They are apparently being investigated for suspicion that they leaked a copy of police video that also showed the abusive actions of Martin.

The Fort Worth Police Department has refused further comment on the status of the jobs of these two Black officers. “The department is maintaining the integrity of the investigations without influence,” a Lt. Paula Fimbres said. “When the department reaches a point that an official statement can be made, it will be made.”

Fort Worth’s Black community is rallying behind these two Black officers.  “This community stands behind them and is outraged that they are involved in any type of investigation,” said Dominique Alexander, founder and president of the Next Generation Action Network. “We have heard [many statements] that this information was not given to them …”

Lee Merritt, attorney for Jacqueline Craig, also spoke out against the Fort Worth Police. "We denounce and we ask that the Fort Worth Police Department immediately call for an end to the witch hunt for the individuals responsible, or allegedly responsible, for the so-called leak,” said  Merritt. "The hypocrisy in bringing charges against only the Black actors in this incident cannot be set aside. It would be one thing to call it playing the race card, but when race is a predictive factor in who will be targeted for criminal prosecution, sometimes you have to call a spade a spade."

George Milner, the lawyer for Deputy Chief Keyes, highlighted the hypocritical double-standard with how the Fort Worth Police dealt with the case of White Officer David Brintnell, who was arrested a few weeks ago for the sexual assault of a child under 17—but, who has been allowed to continue working since January, under restricted duty, until he recently resigned. “Yet a deputy chief, where there has been no evidence presented whatsoever, has to sit at home and be at the beckon call of internal investigators,” said Milner. “It’s hard to understand.”

The truth of the matter it is only hard to understand if we remove racism from the equation.Imagine, these responsible, supposedly, upstanding police officials suspended these Black officers, because they say they suspect them of leaking a video showing outrages the public already saw on the video recorded by Craig’s older daughter—but the outrageous, and criminal actions of the officer received but a slap on the wrist. Even though he engaged in a triple assault, triple false arrest scenario he got a light pass so far. (In the meantime the case has been sent to a grand jury).

Is there any need to mention that these same police authorities allowed Brintnell—accused of rape—to continue to work on the force? Fort Worth Police are obviously doing everything to conceal the real reason they targeted these Black officers. It’s quite telling when we have killer-cops escaping anything resembling justice, while two officers are suspended based on “suspicion.”

Are these Black officers being sent a message about the importance of maintaining the “Blue Wall of Silence,” where officers are expected to cover-up any atrocious actions done by other officers, regardless? Evidently the Blue Wall is maintained regardless of race since Chief Fitzgerald himself is Black.

If this isn’t about sending a message on the importance of maintaining the “Blue Wall of Silence,” then, why is this police department going after these Black cops for allegedly leaking a video whose main contents are already known?

Meanwhile Officer Martin himself would have reportedly been promoted to corporal had he accepted a deal by chief Fitzgerald for a seven-day suspension without the right to appeal. Martin was eventually suspended for 10 days. Chief Fitzgerald reportedly wants him to go back patrolling the same neighborhood. To get a flavor of what Fort Worth is like, during a January townhall meeting to discuss Martin's takedown and arrest of Craig, the city's mayor Betsy Price who is White warned that the gathering shouldn't turn into a "just a bitch session".Why was the White neighbor never arrested? Because he merely placed his hand on Craig's son's shoulder, according to Fort Worth Police. In the townhall meeting police chief Fitzgerald had assistant chief Ed Kraus gently place a hand on his shoulders to demonstrate how Officer Martin allegedly touched Craig's son. What planet do these folks live on? Isn't this for a jury to determine? Even admitting to placing his hand on the boy is an assault by the neighbor. Chief Fitzgerald must be under tremendous pressure or an extremely pitiable state of mind.Black people must face the racist reality that the police are not there to “serve and protect” them. Police are there to “police” Blacks and “serve and protect” others—from Blacks. That has been an essential part of policy since the days when the second strain of American policing, known as the Slave Patrols—or, what the Second Amendment refers to as Militias—were implemented to protect the property interests of the Founding Fathers and Slave-owners.

Black people must realize that the problem with police is not a matter of “a few bad apples.” The apparatus that is American policing was always designed to criminalize Blacks.

That remains the case today. This is why political “leaders” say very little about the abuse, slaughter and murder of African-Americans. Another sobering fact is this: the FBI, in a 2006 Intelligence Assessment disclosed that police departments are being infiltrated by those known as “ghost skins”—members of racial hate groups like the Klan.

Black America must prepare for more racially-biased policing to worsen in Donald Trump’s America. Demonizing the “others” is the natural inclination. Plus Jeff Sessions is attorney general. 

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