Louisville’s mayor announced the appointment of a new police chief yesterday, and it didn’t take long for racism to rear its ugly head and complain about the color of his skin. At yesterday’s press conference introducing Steve Conrad as the replacement for Robert White—who moved on to head Denver’s police department—a group of African-American ministers walked in and conspicuously sat in the front row.
Self-appointed leader Rev. Charles Elliott, pastor of King Solomon Missionary Baptist Church, was quick to express his displeasure. Speaking to WHAS-11’s Joe Arnold, Elliot said, "I was disappointed that she was not the one that they picked." He explained that he wanted the mayor to appoint Louisville police officer Yvette Gentry to succeed Robert White as chief. Both Gentry and White are African-Americans.
Further explaining his position, Eliott said, "We do have in our race the quality of leadership, whereby God blessed us to have the first black president of the U.S., with a white momma, which used to be if you looked at a white woman you'd be hung. So we made some progress, and we was hoping we could continue to make that kind of progress."
Seated with Elliott was Black Muslim activist Christopher 2X, who was a bit more circumspect when he told WAVE-3’S John Boel, "This isn't the first time I met Chief Conrad and my first impression on him from the first time I met him was he was very humble, strong willed, very straight forward about making our relationship work."
But Louisville NAACP President Raoul Cunningham was a good deal more reasonable in his appraisal of Conrad’s appointment. “You always want to make progress, but because you did have the first (African-American police chief), we never maintained that the next one would have to be African-American," said Cunningham, adding, "We made sure in conversations with the Fischer administration that diversity was utilized throughout the (selection) process."
In addition to Rev. Elliott’s disappointment over Mayor Fischer’s appointment of a Caucasian to replace an African-American as police chief, there are may of us who are equally disappointed that some self-styled “civil rights leaders” feel compelled to inject hints of racism any time a White job applicant is chosen instead of a Black applicant.
Better we should all follow the reasonable sentiments of NAACP president Cunningham, who said, "This appointment is one of the most important appointments that the Mayor will make and therefore the community needs to rally behind and pull together to make this a better community." Amen to that.
WAVE-3’s’s John Boel reports:
WHAS-11’s Joe Arnold reports:
Louisville.com's The Arena section features opinions from active participants in the city's politics. Their viewpoints are not those of Louisville.com (a website is an inanimate object and, as such, has no opinions). The Arena is read by more people in Louisville than in any other city in America. Photo credits: WHAS-11, WAVE-3.
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