Tags: Pittsburgh | Cameron McLay | white privilege

Pittsburgh Chief Defends Anti-Racism Sign that Infuriated Cops

By    |   Monday, 05 Jan 2015 11:21 AM

When a beaming Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay agreed to pose for a photo while holding up a sign stating: "I agree to challenge racism @ work," he set off a firestorm of protest among Pittsburgh's finest — but the chief is not backing down.

The photo was posted on the website #endwhitesilence, a group identified on its website as "a Pittsburgh based collective working to create a world that is free of destructive white privilege and oppression."

Talking Points Memo reports that McLay angered Pittsburgh's Fraternal Order of Police President Howard McQuillan, who wrote in a department-wide email later posted on Twitter: "Our current Chief of Police (is) insinuating that we are now racist, merely by the color of our skin and the nature of our profession. I say enough is enough!
 
"The recent Twitter photo has restarted the rebuilding of a wall between the chief's office and the rank-and-file that we have been working tirelessly to tear down for some time now. We need to repair the department's morale, then work our way outward to the community."

McLay struck back with his own departmental email, stating: "To me, the term 'white silence' simply means that we must be willing to speak up to address issues of racial injustice, poverty, etc. In my heart, I believe we all must come together as community to address real world problems and I am willing to be a voice to bring community together.
"I saw no indictment of police or anyone else in this sign, but I do apologize to any of you who felt I was not supporting you; that was not my intent," The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

McQuillan's action echoed the ongoing clash between New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYPD Patrolman's Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch, who laid the blame for the ambush murders of NYPD patrolmen Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu on de Blasio, saying: "That blood on the hands starts on the steps of city hall in the office of the mayor," Fox News reported.

Liu and Ramos were slain by Ismaaiyl Abdullah Brinsley, allegedly in revenge for the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown at the hands of police. Brinsley killed himself as police pursued him.

In Pittsburgh's case, Mayor Bill Paduto stood firmly behind his chief of police's action in posing for the photo.

Peduto told WTAE Pittsburgh: "I think it was the right thing to do. What he's basically saying is there is not a perceived problem, there is a problem. It's not only within Pittsburgh, it's across this county. I think that folks that would be aggravated by it have more of a polarizing view of police versus community.

"We're trying to pull it together — police and community."

Paduto told the Post-Gazette he found "the reaction of the FOP inappropriate in its tone and message and also trying to say there is something nefarious in trying to end racism.

"Basically, he was saying he would do all he can to make sure the law is equitably enforced in 2015. I can’t see why anybody would be upset with that.”

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When a beaming Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay agreed to pose for a photo while holding up a sign stating: "I agree to challenge racism @ work," he set off a firestorm of protest among Pittsburgh's finest — but the chief is not backing down.
Pittsburgh, Cameron McLay, white privilege
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2015-21-05
Monday, 05 Jan 2015 11:21 AM
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