Tom Butt
  E-Mail Forum – 2020  
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  Richmond Pushes Forward
May 31, 2020

I could not have said it any better than our Interim Police Chief, Bisa French.


My heart was very heavy this week watching the events in Minneapolis unfold. The video of the Minneapolis Police Officer kneeling on the neck of George Floyd while he begged for help was sickening. What was equally disturbing is the fact that several officers were present and complicit. While this situation occurred many miles away, the actions of those officers undermine the law enforcement profession and have damaged the years of effort put forth to build relationships with the community. The tactics used on Mr. Floyd were counter to what we train and what I expect of our officers. The officers involved showed a lack of compassion and humanity. Regardless of the anyone’s circumstances, human beings cannot and should not be treated the way Mr. Floyd was treated.

Despite my grief over Mr. Floyd’s death, I know it is my duty as the Chief to push forward. Each day provides an opportunity to make a positive impact on our community. I am committed to ensuring that the members of the Richmond Police Department carry out their duties in an ethical manner and that we provide the professional service our community expects and deserves.

Bisa French
Interim Police Chief
Richmond Police Department
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We are fortunate to live in a City that values diversity and eschews discrimination, where we have not, in recent history, had to deal with excessive police violence against a black person. We are also fortunate to live in a city where violent protests, no matter how egregious the cause, have been avoided in favor of peaceful assemblies and community action and involvement. So far, that has worked for Richmond.

Six years ago, following the failure of grand juries to indict white police officers in the deaths of two unarmed black men, Eric Garner in Staten Island and Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, Richmond hosted a peaceful protest where the chief of police, Chris Magnus was front and center.

From Richmond Confidential:

With national protests erupting over the non-indictment of the police officers involved in the Brown and Eric Garner cases, Richmond served as a rare example of a peaceful protest on Tuesday. More than 100 people joined the protest, holding signs or their hands up in surrender – like some witnesses said Brown was doing before being shot – and drawing approving honks from cars passing by.

In recent days, neighboring Berkeley witnessed protests turned violent with windows smashed and trash cans lit on fire, as well as alleged police brutality. Spates of violence have also marred demonstrations in Oakland.

There was no violence at the Richmond protest.

Let’s hope that we in Richmond can continue be an example, in these troubled times, of how an enlightened police department with proper training and good leadership can show the way to a more equitable and tolerant future for this country.