NAACP Baltimore Branch
Tessa Hill-Aston, President
May 18, 2015
Gene S. Ryan, President
Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge #3
RE: Concerns about rhetoric used towards African American female leadership
Dear President Ryan:
We hope this letter finds you in good spirits, and pray that our words convey a message of clarity through righteous intentions. The local uprising and civil unrest that occurred within the City of Baltimore over the past few weeks, following the actions of six of your officers who have been charged with various crimes due to their handling of 25-year old Freddie Gray who died a week after his arrest, was an unfortunate situation that we all wish would have never happened.
However, it is your words and the actions of your FOP Lodge #3 that followed that has given the Baltimore Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) grave concern; and instead of protesting or picketing the lodge as an immediate action, showcasing our extreme displeasure, we decided to first put our concerns in writing as we seek to find a happy medium moving forward.
During the protests by a handful of our children (and when we say “our children” we are referencing African American youth), which escalated into a violent altercation between officers of the Baltimore City Police Department and the younger community as a whole, we were disturbed by your use of language describing these frustrated young citizens and those protesting the death of Mr. Gray in police custody as a “lynch mob”. The “rhetoric” you described coming from these irate citizens were spawned by decades of pinned-up anger and frustration regarding continuing incidents such as this, where relatively young African American men die after encountering members of law enforcement – who are supposed to “protect and serve” their interests.
After this unfortunate incident, you then decided to defend these six officers by all but attacking our newly elected State’s Attorney, Marilyn Mosby – a young African American mother of two, whose office thus far has an impeccable record of integrity and transparency. Yet, for whatever reason, you decided to question her relationship with the attorney of the Gray family, William ‘Billy’ Murphy, for his campaign contribution to Mrs. Mosby’s campaign – something in which your group also did in 2014.
The FOP rhetoric didn’t stop there however, as you also chose to point to the relationship Mrs. Mosby has to the 7th district councilman, Nick Mosby – her husband. You knew of this existing relationship when you supported her candidacy last year by way of your financial contribution, and should have had an idea that such a “conflict” could occur in the future; however, you chose to ignore that reality for your own personal convenience.
We also found it extremely disrespectful when you welcomed the pending Department of Justice investigation into the Baltimore City Police Department, while pointing to the fact that you believe they should also investigate the Mayor of the City of Baltimore. You know full well that the DOJ’s ‘Patterns and Practice” investigation has absolutely nothing to do with the job performance of the city’s highest elected official. Yet you try to dilute the situation at hand, which is that your trained officers mishandled yet another situation involving a black man that subsequently resulted in his death; and yet you ask for the DOJ to “expand the scope of their review” to once again push your own personal agenda.
This rhetoric and clearly absurd stretch of the facts at hand seems intended to pollute the possible jury pool that you yourself blame Mrs. Mosby’s office of attempting to do; and you know full well that the job performance of Mrs. Mosby and Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has absolutely nothing to do with the gross misconduct of your officers. Thus, we see your actions and words as a clear threat to the African American leadership of our city, as well as to the citizens of this city as a whole – the majority of whom elected these women to represent their interests.
Your intended goal is clear, to all but subtly threaten these women who are merely doing the job we elected them to do, while making borderline racists statements that you know will provoke negative perceptions in the minds of those in full support of law enforcement in order to tear down the fabric of our elected leadership in Baltimore and only further deepen the racial divide within our city. Well we are letting you know that we will not sit by idly and allow you to do such!
As you know, the NAACP has a long history of addressing the social, racial and economic ills of communities of color, while servicing the needs of these communities, and the Baltimore Branch’s integrity has always been stellar in regards to representing the interests of the citizens of our great city. It bothers us greatly to have the integrity of these strong African American female leaders questioned by someone who has never served a day in elective office, and yet is pushing a personal agenda in the face of clear injustice, regardless of the possible irreparable harm it may have on our city in the long run – especially during this time of extreme peril in our city.
Since the riots of 2015 broke out on the West Side of Baltimore, our branch has done everything in its power to service the immediate and future needs of those communities who have been adversely affected by these unfortunate circumstances. It is through our rich history of service that we witnessed citizens from all walks of life, races, creeds, color, ethnicities and political affiliations stepping up to help rebuild a city that has remained in a state of emergency for the past few decades, largely due to the distrust they have with members of your organization.
We believe that your recent words and actions only helps to further widen that racial divide, which ultimately makes sincere efforts of reconciliation and healing only harder for those of us trying to make sure Baltimore remains the greatest city in America.
We sincerely hope that the issues we have presented to you in this letter, and the words of our frustrations, lead to an open and honest dialogue between your organization and those who have signed on to this letter, so we can begin to rebuild the type of trusting and lasting relationship between the law enforcement community and the citizens of this city that will withstand the test of time and any possible future incidents such as this.
We want to thank the leaders of the BCPD, the hard working men and women who risk their lives each and every day to protect our communities from danger, for the work they continue to do across our city, especially in communities such as Sandtown-Winchester. And we hope to begin a working relationship between the FOP and the NAACP, in order to continue moving our city forward, not allowing unfounded and baseless allegations to undo the decades of hard work and trusting partnerships of our two entities.
Thank you and God Bless!
Chairman, NAACP Criminal Justice Committee
Other concerned leaders:
Reverend Anthony McCarthy (Secretary, NAACP)
Ashiah Parker (Vice-Chair, NAACP CJ Committee)
Merrick Moise (Member, NAACP CJ Committee)
Tamika Winkler (Member, NAACP CJ Committee)
Carolyn Combs (Member, NAACP CJ Committee)
Will Hanna (Member, NAACP CJ Committee)
Timothy Wilson (Member, NAACP CJ Committee/Sandtown Community leader)