Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Black Baton Rouge Mayor Condones Racist Police Actions

Jay Martin
Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden
We gave a white Louisiana sheriff hell in 2006 for saying in anger how he planned to profile black people with dreadlocks following murders in Slidell, La. But what are we saying to the black mayor of Baton Rouge, Kip Holden? He's said proudly that he condoned the Baton Rouge Police Department's violent, discriminatory crackdown on Hurricane Katrina survivors in his city?

A report surfaced earlier this month. Out-of-state troopers accused the Baton Rouge Police force of harassing black Hurricane Katrina survivors following the storm and evacuation.
Troopers described Baton Rouge officers as being loud and rude to African-Americans but polite to whites. It quotes one as saying Baton Rouge officers referred to black people as "animals" that needed to be beaten down. Troopers also reported that officers said they were ordered to make life rough for New Orleans evacuees so they would leave town, the newspaper said. (Times Picayune)
Look at how Mayor Kip Holden, the black guy, responded to the report's recent publication.
"I was not going to let Baton Rouge be overrun by some people from New Orleans who were hell-bent on committing crimes," Mayor Holden said. "If there's a blame to be placed on aggressive enforcement, blame it on me." (Times Picayune editorial)
Yeah. We tried to rip a hole in Jack Strain, the sheriff of St. Tammany Parish, when he made his comments about dreadlocks in 2006. The nation was determined to tell him that what he said and the potential harassment he seemed to condone was wrong, and we called him a racist. After the brutal Slidell murders, he said:
I don't get into calling people names and all of that fact. But if you're going to walk the streets of Saint Tammany Parish with dreadlocks and chee wee hairstyles, then you can expect to be getting a visit from a sheriff's deputy. (Jack Strain 2006)
He also said his deputies would stop poor people on the street from New Orleans, who he assumed came from the projects, and if they didn't have jobs, then they needed to get out of his parish.

I had a lot to say back then about Strain. While I understood his frustration over the horrific murders that a child had witnessed, I still said we should not tolerate that kind of broad profiling nor that kind of disrespectful rhetoric from a public official about any group of the population.

Honestly, I think Jack Strain probably thought about what he said. He most likely wishes he had behaved differently, especially in front of a news crew, and also after residents made it clear to him that Slidell had multiple law-abiding black tax payers who wore dreadlocks and hair twists. I'll also say that Strain was equally angry when KKK activity reared its head in his parish, but less frustrated possibly because they caught the killers.

I'm not saying Strain no longer has any racial bias. I'm just saying he probably contemplated how his bias needed to be put in check. People who read my work know that I think most white people haven't really examined white privilege or don't acknowledge it and therefore probably hold onto either conscious or subconscious racist ideas in their heads. It's not something that mysteriously vanishes. It's something humans have to work on.

And now we've got the mayor of Baton Rouge, this black guy one-upping Jack Strain. This black mayor unleashed a southern Gestapo-like force on other black people. Racism unrestrained worked through his city's police department, and he's smiling for the cameras, happy to claim it.
In records obtained by The Advocate, troopers from New Mexico and Michigan detailed how Baton Rouge officers routinely harassed black people, performed illegal searches and used unnecessary violence. They said Baton Rouge officers were loud and rude to African-American people but polite to white people. A local officer is quoted referring to black people as "animals" that "needed to be beaten down."

There was more than hateful words. A trooper said that, as a thank-you for his help, Baton Rouge officers offered to let him beat down a prisoner. "I was told that I could go ahead and beat someone down," Michigan State Trooper Jeffrey Werda was quoted in The Advocate. Another Baton Rouge officer allegedly hit a man in the head and "took him to the ground in a head lock," even though "at no time did (the man) pose a threat or mouth off at the officers," the trooper said. (Read more)
The editorial in the Times Picayune surmises the mayor, the Baton Rouge police chief, and other Baton Rouge officials were overcome with a post-Katrina hysteria. I suppose they have exhibited a certain kind of madness, but if Field Negro and Rippa, two vocal male black bloggers wrote about the Baton Rouge mayor, they would probably call Kip a slave catcher. Perhaps so would the bloggers at Jack and Jill Politics.

I'm just shaking my head. Mr. Mayor, law enforcement from another state came forward to blow the whistle on your police department and you think you deserve a pat on the back or are your comments your version of taking responsibility? Sounds more like you're making excuses to me, trying to convince others you were somehow justified because your'e a "law and order mayor."

Oh, people, what are we going to do about Kip Holden? How should we handle his hysterical behind?

Related at NOLA.com and BlogHer.com:


RiPPa said...

I am sorely disappointed. And I bet this guy was skinning and grinning when he said what he said. That's not right at all and I wish this would get some national attention. It is bad ebough when "they" do it to our folk. But when it is one of us?


P.S. He is a slave-catcher indeed. At least he exhibits the behavior.

Vérité Parlant is Nordette Adams said...

Yeah. I thought about you and FN calling folks slave catchers when I read this. I think Kip may be one in the truest sense of the word.

Thank you for the visit.