Atlanta area Sheriff Butch Conway says that he is sick of what he calls hate groups like Black Lives Matter and the irresponsible media that is fueling officer hate.
In an impassioned statement, the sheriff says those who have been calling for reform are domestic terrorists and that their message is that police lives don’t matter.
Hope you’re watching, sheriff, because you’re about to get a Reality Check.
It’s a long statement released by Sheriff Butch Conway. He talks about attacks on law enforcement across the country, racial divide, and the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO.
And then he says this:
“Law enforcement officers are being dehumanized. Those inciting riots and committing murders are simply criminals and do not represent the majority of Americans. They are domestic terrorists with an agenda. Their message is that police lives don’t matter, which sure sounds like a hate group to me.”
Sheriff Conway isn’t alone. Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly first floated the idea that the Black Lives Matter movement is a domestic terror group.
Two weeks ago, O’Reilly called Black Lives Matter a hate group and said he would put them out of business.
Playing off that theme, Gwinnett County Sheriff Conway said this:
“The truth is that the common denominator in every controversial case of officers using deadly force has been police interaction with people who do not respect the law. To my knowledge, each of those instances involved someone obstructing police officers trying to do their jobs. The blatant disrespect towards law enforcement officers performing their duties must stop.”
To your knowledge, that is the case in every one of these instances?
Then let me help you with that knowledge.
John Crawford of Ohio, the 22-year-old walking in a Wal-Mart who picked up a toy gun off a shelf, officers responded to a 9-1-1 call and shot him in 0.36 seconds.
That’s three-tenths of a second after he was told to drop that toy gun. Was he disregarding the law?
Walter Scott, pulled over for a non-functioning brake light, runs from a police officer who shoots him five times—three times in the back.
The officer, Michael Thomas Slager, then claimed Scott tried to take his Taser. Yet in video he appears to plant the Taser near Scott’s body.
That officer was charged with murder.
Tamir Rice? He’s the 12-year-old boy in Cleveland who was on a playground while holding an Airsoft toy gun.
When the officers arrived, they shot Rice within two seconds of arriving on the scene—two seconds—and there is no evidence they even spoke to him before firing.
What law was he disregarding?
Sam Dubose was pulled over by University of Cincinnati Police Officer Ray Tensing. Dubose decides he is going to leave when told to take off his seat belt.
And that is when Officer Tensing reaches into the car with one hand and shoots him in the head.
That officer was charged with murder.
Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old from Baltimore was walking in his home neighborhood when two bike patrol officers saw him. He made eye contact with the officers, had no weapon visible and was committing no crime. But he ran.
Officers chased, caught, arrested, and somehow injured Gray so badly that 80 percent of his spine became detached from his neck before he died.
And, of course, Eric Garner, who just over a year ago was choked to death while four officers wrestled him to the ground and held him down until he suffocated.
Garner was accused of selling loose cigarettes. He had his hands up and was asking to be left alone when he died. He kept begging officers, telling them, “I can’t breathe.”
What you need to know is that right now the political environment is toxic. Everyone is picking a side.
Fact: There are lots of very good officers out there who are just trying to make their communities safer.
Fact: There are also officers who are corrupt, violent, and shouldn’t be trusted with a badge.
But Sheriff Conway, it is flatly untrue to say that everyone who dies at the hands of police had it coming.
And it is that lie—not racism, not hate—that has truly fueled the Black Lives Matter movement.
That’s Reality Check. Let’s talk about this on Twitter @BenSwann_