In from Scott Roberts of ColorofChange.org
He was on his back. Unarmed. With his hands in the air, yelling “don’t shoot.” But North Miami Officer Jonathan Aledda shot Charles Kinsey, a 47 year-old behavioral therapist helping an autistic patient, anyway. When Kinsey asked why he’d been shot in the leg, the officer replied “I don’t know.”1
It’s yet another case showing the world what Black people already know: all you have to do to be considered a threat is be Black.
The department just suspended without pay Commander Emile Hollant–the officer who radioed in misinformation that the patient was loading a gun and later lied about it.2 It’s a small step, but neither of these officers should be able to put on a uniform again. However, Florida police union contracts and lobbying have made it almost impossible for police officers to be held accountable.3
Even the local SEIU, caregivers union, recognized the need for police unions to stop defending dangerous cops.4 It’s a huge precedent for a labor union to call police unions out. And after a week of protests5,momentum against police unions–the most dangerous fraternities in America–is growing and we have to make sure they can’t keep protecting the worst among them.
Charles Kinsey was helping his autistic patient who had run away from a treatment center. He calmly told Officer Aledda the patient had a toy truck in his hands–not a gun–and there was no need for firearms. The officer still shot him in the leg, and it’s scary to think of what could have happened had the bullet went a few inches further.
Now the local police union is saying Aledda meant the bullet for Kinsey’s patient because he feared he would harm him and that “did what [he] had to do.”6 It’s outrageous. Charles Kinsey’s life matters. His patient’s life matters. And the story that the officer was trying to protect Kinsey doesn’t match up with what the officer did after shooting him. Instead of responding as if he’d made a mistake, Officer Aledda turned Kinsey over while he was bleeding and handcuffed him and the patient–though they had done nothing wrong.
The police union defense of this officer is indicative of the poisonous ‘good ol’ boys’ culture of policing. In Florida, negotiated contracts and an “Officers’ Bill of Rights” have made it almost impossible to hold police officers accountable when they commit crimes.7 They ensure police officers can appeal any disciplinary action and win. And on a national level, right-wing politicians are working to solidify those efforts and further criminalization at the same time with ‘Blue Lives Matter’ bills that seek to silence the movement for police accountability.8 It’s time we truly expose police unions and the role they play in making sure police get away with murder.
We can do that by showing massive support for the termination of these officers. Charles Kinsey didn’t deserve this–and if we can hold Aledda and Hollant accountable, it will set a precedent against police union protection of bad cops.
Until justice is real,
–Scott, Rashad, Arisha, Clarise, Enchanta and the rest of the ColorOfChange team.
1. “The Most Disturbing Part About the Charles Kinsey Shooting,” The Huffington Post, 07-21-2016
2. “North Miami cop suspended for misleading probe of Charles Kinsey shooting,” Miami Herald, 07-22-2016
3. “In Florida, Cops Flout the Law and Continue Working,” The Miami New Times, 06-07-2016
4. “Statement in Response to the North Miami Police Shooting of Caregiver Charles Kinsey,” 1199 SEIU, 07-21-2016
5. “Young Black Protesters Blockade Police Facilities Across the Country,” Truthout.org, 07-21-2016
6. “Bullet that struck caregiver was meant to protect him, police union prez says,” Miami Herald, 07-21-2016
7. “In Florida, Cops Flout the Law and Continue Working,” The Miami New Times, 06-07-2016
8. “Trump and other Conservatives Embrace ‘Blue Lives Matter’ movement,” NBC News, 07-23-2016