Grand Divisions

Tennessee Equality Project seeks to advance and protect the civil rights of our State’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons and their families in each Grand Division.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Update on Memphis police beating

Coverage of the police beating of Duanna Johnson is picking up in the Commercial Appeal. On Friday, the paper ran this story Police Director Larry Godwin's disgust at what is captured on the now famous video tape. It looks as if he is taking some of the appropriate steps in dealing with the disaster:

"There are going to be issues," Godwin said. "I'll deal with those issues. We don't have some code of silence here. If an officer does wrong, there are consequences because it taints the other 99.5 percent of the men and women in the department who work hard for the city."

On Saturday, the paper's editorial, while sloppily using the word "lifestyles," condemned the action of the officers involved and questioned the sheriff's focus on finding how the tape had been released.

The Shelby County Sheriff's Office, meanwhile, is intent on finding out how the videotape was leaked to an attorney. That's all well and good, but we trust they have been just as diligent investigating why their jail personnel didn't intervene.

Godwin got it right when he said McRae's job the night of the arrest was to treat his prisoner with respect and dignity while processing her into the system.

In a city where the perception is that African-Americans are unjustly hassled by officers, McRae's and Swain's actions are particularly injurious to efforts to diminish that perception and to build better relations with the African-American community. Beyond race, the officers' actions compromise the trust the community has in police officers. Losing that trust negatively affects the quality of officers' efforts to keep us safe.

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