SAN DIEGO (AP) — For some, the apology went too far. For others, it didn’t go far enough. For many, it was just right.

The president of one of the largest police organizations in the United States on Monday apologized for historical mistreatment of minorities, calling it a “dark side of our shared history” that must be acknowledged and overcome.

Terrence Cunningham, president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, said at the group’s annual conference that police have historically been a face of oppression, enforcing laws that ensured legalized discrimination and denial of basic rights. He was not more specific.

Cunningham said today’s officers are not to blame for past injustices. He did not speak in detail about modern policing, but said events over the past several years have undermined public trust. His comments come as police shootings of black men have roiled communities in Ferguson, Missouri; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; and suburban St. Paul, Minnesota; and as black shooters have targeted officers in Dallas, the St. Louis suburb of Ballwin and Baton Rouge.

“While we obviously cannot change the past, it is clear that we must change the future,” Cunningham said. “We must forge a path that allows us to move beyond our history and identify common solutions to better protect our communities.

“For our part, the first step in this process is for law enforcement and the (International Association of Chiefs of Police) to acknowledge and apologize for the actions of the past and the role that our profession has played in society’s historical mistreatment of communities of color,” he said.

Cunningham received a standing ovation for his remarks from thousands of law enforcement officials before he introduced U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who largely avoided the topic. He has been police chief since 1999 in his hometown of Wellesley, Massachusetts, an affluent, overwhelmingly white, low-crime suburb near Boston. He served three years as vice president of the police chiefs association before becoming president in 2015 for a one-year term.

David Alexander III, police chief in Pensacola, Florida, said recognizing historical injustices is key to addressing race relations, just as acknowledging domestic violence was a step forward.

“When you don’t know the history and you say, ‘Well, there is no problem,’ then you pretty much present yourself as insensitive to the issues,” said Alexander, who is black. “The issue of racial tension has been a part of American history since its settlement.”

Delrish Moss, who has been police chief of Ferguson, Missouri, since May and is black, said he had negative encounters with police when he was growing up, including being called racial epithets.

“There are communities that have long perceived us as oppressors, there are communities that have long perceived us as the jackbooted arm of government designed to keep people under control, and that’s one of the things we have to work hard to get past,” Moss said. “I’m glad it’s being addressed … because the only way to get past it is to first acknowledge the existence of it.”

Leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement were less enthusiastic.

Campaign Zero co-founder DeRay Mckesson said he looked forward to Cunningham’s comments being backed up by deep, structural changes to policing and the criminal justice system.

Lt. Bob Kroll, head of the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis, thought Cunningham’s statement went too far. In his city, two white officers fatally shot a black man last November.

“Our profession is under attack right now and what we don’t need is chiefs like him perpetuating that we are all bad guys in law enforcement,” Kroll said. “I think it’s an asinine statement. … We’ve got officers dying on almost a daily basis now because of this environment, and statements like that don’t help.”

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14 thoughts on “Reactions Are Mixed To Police Leader’s Apology

  1. Kates1221 you said in your post that we could always stop calling them. A cops job is to serve and protect the citizens of the county, town, city, state for which he/she works. Their job is to come when we call when there is a situation we cannot control or handle.

    You say the things you say as though you believe that cops should not be held accountable because blacks kill blacks. CRIMINALS kill everyone, black white, red, or yellow and believe it or not sometimes that CRIMINAL wears a BLUE uniform. There is a bigger picture, but you reduce it down to “well they are killing each other so….” I don’t think it’s a good thing criminals kill other people of their own race (or any race), no more than I like the fact that cops have ALWAYS treated blacks as second or worse class citizens, but for some reason that doesn’t seem to bother you.
    I guess I said all that to say, yes most intelligent black human beings recognize the fact that we have a problem in our community but most of us don’t really know how to solve the issue in its entirety. Yes, there are some things an average law abiding citizen could do better or differently but that’s not going to completely dissolve the problem.
    The ones that can stop the violence are the criminal themselves but until that happens, no amount of marching in the streets, kneeling, standing, or singing is going to change things, criminals will always exist and not just black ones.

    • I don’t believe that cops should not be held accountable. However, I do think that if we showed just 1 inth of the passion, concern and outrage for little Tyshawn Lee, who was lured into an alley and executed in retaliation for something his father did, instead of showing the world that we don’t give a damned about our own unless someone else is doing the killing, then perhaps the world would take us seriously and know that we really do value black lives. His own father wouldn’t cooperate with finding out who blew a hole through his son’s head. Who’s going to care about a people who care so little for their own? We also don’t know how to solve the police brutality problem, but that didn’t stop a whole nation of people from trying. I didn’t see any kneeling, sitting, dancing on water, preaching or rapping when this little one’s death was revealed. Not even a word. There is a whole nation of people standing up for people killed by cops. My standing up for the ones who no pays any tributes, dedicates any concerts or holds any vigils for is not going to affect that movement. This is what I choose to do.

      • specialt757 on said:

        I guess we see what we want to see. There have been vigils for lives lost (by us) in our community, I see them everyday on the news. There have been marches and concerts to raise awareness and other things but that still has not stopped the violence. Until the criminals decide not to be criminals any longer we’ll continue to have these problems. The police are PAID and took an oath to protect and enforce the law, that doesn’t always mean kill and that’s obvious because white folks are taken into custody when they have guns, knives, bates, and other weapons, but we are killed on the spot even when we are not a threat.
        Keep fighting for your good cause, I hope you are not only doing it here on BAW but in our communities as well.

      • Cops don’t only kill blacks. Actually, we don’t always see what we want to see. I want to see nationwide marches and peaceful protests about the annihilation of blacks by other blacks. I want to see other entertainers (beside Bill Cosby) try to raise awareness about responsibility to our children and ourselves. It just doesn’t happen. It’s not as if marches and protest are going to stop people from being killed by cops. Not a chance, but that doesn’t stop a whole nation of people continuing to bring awareness to it. Every day, every hour we’re hammered with it. I’ll bet most people reading these post have never heard of most of the victims of violence not involving police or other white people. No, I’m nowhere near seeing what I want to see, but my minority number of friends, family, and community leaders hope to see that change one day. I just wish we had the means to be in every city instead of just our own.

  2. Malney96 on said:

    Kates1221, I’ve read ur post and noticed that you bring up that parallel a lot. By making that observation, are you then claiming that other communities don’t kill each other?!

    • Not at all. It’s just the claim that eats at me the most. Whenever the conversation arises, just as you did in your post, the number of men, women and more and more, children slaughtered in the streets by other civilians is left out. Fact: Weekend before last, five people were killed and 35 wounded in one weekend in Chicago. 3, 366 shot this year. 981 more than last year. And that’s not including the tally from this weekend. Not one athlete is kneeling. Not singer is dancing on water. Not rapper is rapping. Not one preacher is preaching. Nothing. There are plenty of people protesting the killing of people by police officers, which is miniscule compared to the bloodbath committed by blacks on other blacks. My one reminder of the forgotten ones being mowed down on city streets and in neighborhoods by people that look just like them is not going to slow the momentum. It’s my way of saying that while we are all stomping around trying to put out a small fire in the ashtray, the whole house is burning down around us.

  3. …It is wonderful to hear Police Chiefs recognizing the historical wrongs of law enforcement…Some, not all, police officers automatically assume that it is in their “job description” to arrest minorities…I take my hat off to those police chiefs.

  4. specialt757 on said:

    “We’ve got officers dying on almost a daily basis now because of this environment…” What? Where? How are they dying? Is it “in the line of duty” or something else? be specific.
    I got cops die but not all because of “this” environment, it’s an unfortunate part of the profession they chose, but I don’t hear about cops dying almost everyday, that’s bull.

    • Malney96 on said:

      I concur. Cops like him, that are reluctant to change and continually say that there’s no problem, it’s a figment of our imaginations, are part of the problem!

    • Malney96 on said:

      Historically, the “slave patrol” aka “the police”, was designed to monitor; control; muder and keep blacks and native indians in check. The practice worked then and with the examination of the stats that they continually deny, regarding their encounters with blacks and the like, it’s blatantly obvious that it’s still working 150 plus years later.

      • We can always just stop calling them. That way, at the rate we exterminate each other, we wouldn’t have to worry about them. They’d do the same thing the KKK does. Just cop a squat and watch us do a better job at extermination than they could ever think of doing. Problem solved. See? If there’s always a solution to a problem. All you have to do is look.

      • Malney96 on said:

        To further support your claim, I’ll say the following: if the officer’s claim were remotely true, there’d be a lot more of us murdered, on a daily basis and the supposed killings of those officers would be repeatedly broadcasted on every news outlet within this country and abroad. They’d be no covering up the way our murders by them are covered. The genocide of blacks, by law enforcement; military; and racist vigilantes, has been happening in this country for centuries. If it weren’t for the creation of social media and civilian recordings, these murders of innocent, unarmed beautiful black woman, children and men, would continue only being discussed among ourselves. There would no public outcry. Peace!

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