Since forming in 2014, keeping in line with it’s core mission, Brothers Before Others has spent over $200,000.00 simply sending flower arrangements to every law enforcement line of duty death service in America. To make it more clear for you: since 2014, 569 police officers have been killed in the line of duty. Many of those who were lost, were killed by gunfire; and in some of those cases, unprovoked and assassination-style. As an example: on July 7th, 2016, 5 Dallas area police officers were executed while protecting a protest march that, in large part, was protesting THEM. Let that sink in.
So on a day where 7 police officers were shot in Florence, SC, and one of them already confirmed deceased, the LAST thing that we in the law enforcement community should be required to be on guard for is unprovoked and biased comments; let alone comments of that nature coming from an alleged well respected leader of a gigantic New Jersey medical facility.
Welcome to the New United States of America.
In response to a NorthJersey.com article reporting the hiring of armed police officers in a Fair Lawn, NJ school, Robert Wood Johnson Barnabas Health Executive Vice President Michellene Davis had this to say via her personal Facebook page: “Who is going to train them not to shoot black children first?”
Not surprisingly, when Ms Davis’ reckless comments were discovered, she attempted to take the tried and tested road of, “My account was hacked”. She then recanted that attempt and, instead, offered a lukewarm and half-apology: “I want to publicly apologize for an extremely insensitive and offensive comment posted on Facebook. My concern for the safety of the schoolchildren and gun violence led me to react to a headline without thinking.” She then goes on to reference family members of hers who are in law enforcement, as though that somehow makes her comments and clear bias ‘ok’. In fact, Ms. Davis, the fact that you have law enforcement in your family and are STILL capable of this kind of knee-jerk bias, makes it all the more disgusting.
As the head of a national law enforcement charity dedicated to the after care of families effected by line of duty deaths, BBO Founder/President Michael Burke was appalled. “On a day where 7 law enforcement officers were shot and one killed, I find it unfathomable that racially charged statements like these were so casually made. Clearly, this how Ms Davis feels. Her regret is only because of the backlash and because she was ‘caught’. We, as law enforcement, have had ENOUGH. We will no longer serve as punching bags for those in society whose only intention is to create chaos and hate that they then expect US to solve. Anything short of a resignation or termination in this case is unacceptable. We will respond with the same rights that every American has. Our voices speak not only for the active law enforcement, but also for those who have retired and for the families who have lost loved ones in the line of duty; the very same families whose loved ones and the memories of their loved ones are being disrespected and whose sacrifice is being diminished by these ignorant, uninformed and racist comments.”
As Americans, no one disputes that we are free to feel and speak as we wish. In fact, it is that right alone that separates us from most of the worlds more oppressed nations. However, somewhere over time, we have lost the concept that, while we are free to speak as we wish and are protected from persecution because of our words, we are NOT protected from the consequences that may result. We chose our words carefully as functional adults in society because, our words DO have consequences; and balancing what we feel with what comes out of our mouths IS being an adult.
So far, the collective administration of RWJ/Barnabas Health seems to be taking the standard wait-and-see approach as to where this leads. They are giving thoughtless answers such as, “The opinions of our employees do not reflect the opinions of all of RWJ/Barnabas”. The casual manner in which they are responding is not surprising considering, based on her own title, Ms Davis has her hands in “Corporate Affairs”. So, essentially, Ms Davis (or one of her staff) could be writing her own responses. Isn’t that convenient?
The bottom line is this: We, as a society, either reject bias and racism at EVERY turn, or we accept it. The line has never been clearer. The kind of hate and bias that it takes to be able to articulate what Ms Davis did, does not just appear overnight. That kind of bias is a part of who an individual is, as a person, and plays a part in the day to day decision making. If we are comfortable with someone who possesses that level of bias at her core overseeing critical medical care being provided to other human beings, then we, as a collective society, have simply given up.
No one cares for their communities like the American police officer. NO ONE. Society may throw their hands up and dismiss this as nonsense. But the law enforcement community will not. Michael Burke and the members of Brothers Before Others will not. “We will organize and mobilize PBA’s, FOP’s and all of our members to voice our opinions in a peaceful protest; a right that everyone, INCLUDING law enforcement officers, is entitled to. We call on all law enforcement leaders to publicly condemn these comments and call for the resignation of Ms Davis.”
Rest in Peace Police Officer Terrence Carraway:
To Contact RWJ/Barnabas Health:
95 Old Short Hills Road
West Orange, NJ 07052