Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen, who spoke Tuesday in favor of a defeated proposal to require Little Rock police to live in the city, has written on his blog about the vote, critically as you might imagine.
He noted the racial divide — only black city directors voted for the measure. But he didn’t restrict his criticism to attitudes on the police force — majority white and four of every five white officers choosing to live outside the city (some of them provided police cars to drive home to far away places.)
Law enforcement efforts are flawed and relations between law enforcement agencies and communities of color are strained because the culture within law enforcement is “deeply racist.” White police officers in the Little Rock Police Department by and large are unwilling to live in the capitol city of Arkansas. Police Chief Kenton Buckner and Little Rock City Manager Bruce Moore, black men, opposed the ordinance proposed by Director Hendrix that would have made residency a requirement for new police officers. Chief Buckner and City Manager Moore show that “deeply racist” attitudes and practices within law enforcement work are not corrected because black politicians and governmental officials often join white civic and business leaders in perpetuating them.
He wrote, too, about the white business establishment’s backing of the state takeover of the Little Rock School District, governed by a majority-black school board. He targeted comments by Directors Lance Hines and Dean Kumpuris urging more positive ways to improve relationships.
At best, their comments were no more than lip service. I and others were insulted. We don’t need socializing. We need systemic change. It’s absurd to think, and offensive to suggest, that the attitudes and conduct that killed Eugene Ellison and Bobby Moore III will be corrected by having black and white people “have a beer together.”