Since Robert Wood Johnson/Barnabas Health Executive Vice President Michellene Davis’ inflammatory Facebook comment caused shock waves in the law enforcement community, Brothers Before Others Founder/President Michael Burke and the members he represents have made their message clear: RWJ/BH CEO Barry Ostrowsky has an obligation to recognize Ms Davis’ statement as baseless and biased.
When Mr Ostrowsky made the decision to reinstate Ms Davis, he did so affirming his confidence in her ability to lead and never truly addressing the statement she made. Instead, he took the easy way out.
On 10/18/18, outside of the RWJ/BH headquarters, members of BBO, with the support of many law enforcement unions from across the state and the country, stood their ground and made their voices heard. The educational rally, the first in what is sure to many, demonstrated exactly what a “peaceful protest” looks like: no traffic disruption, no fights, no vulgarity, no property damage, no facility disruption. Instead, what the executives of RWJ/BH saw was, as RWJ/BH Public Relations Vice President Ellen Greene described to the head of her department as “people you could have over your house for dinner”.
The fact that Ms Greene even felt compelled to make that clarification, highlights exactly what the American police officer is up against. More importantly, it underscores precisely why fighting false narratives and inflammatory rhetoric similar to the words spoken by Ms Davis is so important. What else was Ms Greene expecting when she heard that police officers were upset and planning a rally? Why should the ladies and gentlemen she met, worthy of a seat at her own dinner table, be such a shock to her? Does that sound like the mindset of someone representing an organization that boasts of the great cooperation and respect they have with and for the law enforcement community?
The American police officer, ironically, is the one presumed guilty before innocent more often than not. That stigma is perpetuated by the hate-breeders and purveyors of false narratives like Ms Davis.
The truth of the matter is that, contrary to what Mr Ostrowsky claims to have hoped would come from this situation, sentiments like the ones expressed by Ms Davis are the biggest road block to any form of productive dialogue or progress. In order for meaningful conversations to happen, the starting point needs to be grounded in some form or rational fact. There is simply not one shred of statistical data supporting the notion that the American police officer is predisposed to “shooting black children first”; and so much so that they actually require training not to be. In fact, the statistics supplied by the FBI as published in the Washington Post tell quite the different story:
The dangers of accommodating false narratives has been on full display in recent years. For example, crimes, up to and including the assassination of police officers, that have resulted from the proven ‘Hands Up/Don’t Shoot’ lie, potentially could have been avoided had level-headed responsible adults of all races and sexes done what was prudent. There is no more glaring example of how out of control the narrative and resulting dangers have become than the 2016 ambush of police officers in Dallas, Texas. 5 Dallas area police officers were ambushed and assassinated while protecting a protest march, largely in part protesting the police. Think about that for a moment. Maybe even read that sentence again. 5 Police officers were killed while protecting people who were protesting police.
For those who do their very best to make this an issue of race, you are missing the mark. I’d invite you to examine the police officers who have been assassinated in recent years; from Texas, to New York, to Louisiana, to Las Vegas, and on and on. You will see that this NOT a race issue. This is very clearly a bias issue; and that bias is undoubtedly anti-law enforcement.
Until people with opportunity that Mr Ostrowsky had start recognizing hate as hate, regardless of the source, there will never be meaningful progress. The ball is in their court. They hold the key that can open that opportunity. Simply acknowledge that what Ms Davis said was baseless, biased and inflammatory. Publicly highlight the true statistics in regards to police use of deadly force. As someone heading an organization that is self-proclaimed to be supportive of law enforcement, this really shouldn’t be so much of an ask.
Until then, you will hear our voice. Brothers Before Others has no intention on letting this matter fade off into the sunset. We will continue to keep the focus where it belongs and will not allow you to spin this into yet another agenda-laden “hit piece”.
For those who support law enforcement, both sworn and civilian, you are invited to attend our next educational rally scheduled for 11/05/18 from 11Am-1PM. The rally will be held at the same location as our first, however this time we are moving to the other side of the street in order to face the RWJ/BH headquarters.
95 Old Short Hills Rd
West Orange, NJ 07052
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