A group of police “activists” are calling for a healthcare administrator to be “held accountable” after she wrote a comment about implicit racial bias in police officers on Facebook, according to NorthJersey.com.
Michellene Davis, an executive vice president at RWJBarnabas Health, a New Jersey-based healthcare network, had written on Facebook, “Who is going to train them [police] not to shoot Black children first?” in response to an Oct. 2 story regarding a local school district placing armed officers on campuses. She had deleted the comment and apologized, then was placed on administrative leave on Oct. 3 before being reinstated a week later.
The CEO of RWJBarnabas Health then wrote that the organization wants to take the lead in social issues such as “violence in all its forms.” Davis has spearheaded the company’s “Social Impact and Community Investment Practice,” which addresses such issues.
However, for Brothers Before Others, a nonprofit police organization, Davis’ consequences weren’t sufficient enough. The organization told NorthJersey.com that it didn’t want Davis fired, but that it wants her to be “held accountable” for her comment about implicit racial bias within law enforcement. Until then, Brothers Before Others have begun protesting outside RWJBarnabas Health’s offices in West Orange, starting with their Thursday demonstration of about 50 people.
The organization is waiting for Davis and the healthcare group’s CEO to acknowledge “2017 FBI statistics” that they have printed out on flyers and on its website: that nationally, police rarely use deadly force in violent crimes. It should be noted, however, that the FBI only began tracking “police officer-involved shootings and other uses of deadly force” last year.
“For a senior VP of a hospital to come out with that statement demonizing police when that’s not even close to the problem is egregious,” Brothers Before Others media director Rob O’Donnell. “Our police are risking everything to protect these children in the schools and are running toward gunfire when there are shootings and she’s accusing them of indiscriminately attacking Black children?”
Again, Davis’ comment wasn’t that cops are purposely seeking to shoot Black children, but that police should be trained not to shoot Black children as a first line of defense. Which, has been done (such as in the fatal police shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who was paying with a toy gun) throughout American history. Regardless, it’s just one of many symptoms of implicit racial bias, including the older perception that Black children are more suspect in comparison to white children, and other forms of discriminatory policing.
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Despite the Brothers Before Others’ demands for justice, Essex County Sheriff Armando Fontoura told the publication that he felt remorse from Davis when he called her, and said she’s always been “extremely supportive” of police officers. Fontoura has, in turn, called for others to “move forward from this out-of-character incident.” The healthcare group, as well, has released a statement about its close relationship with law enforcement.
“We have the highest appreciation and respect for their unwavering dedication to keeping our communities safe,” the statement to the publication reads. “We will focus our efforts on continuing to work collaboratively with our partners in law enforcement for the benefit of the people in the communities we serve.”
H/T the Root