In Kentucky, Senator Danny Carroll is sponsoring Senate Bill 211, a bill that directly responds to the protests following Breonna Taylor’s death. According to the Courier-Journal, Senate Bill 211 would enhance punishments for crimes relating to riots, including a provision making it a crime to insult or taunt a police officer to the point it could provoke a violent response. Senator Danny Carroll stated, “This is not about lawful protest in any way, shape, form or fashion. This country was built on lawful protest, and it’s something that we must maintain — our citizens’ right to do so. What this deals with are those who cross the line and commit criminal acts.”
When did insulting a police officer become a criminal act?
Let me get this straight -we trust officers with weapons, but they cannot stand a few insults?
As a Black woman who writes commentary on race, politics, and feminism, you can imagine the emails I receive. Daily I am sent messages calling me the n-word, a racist, pig, monkey, and a host of other insults. I have received multiple death threats. And still, I write. While I wouldn’t say I like the names I am called, I have made a decision. I have drawn my line in the sand, and I will not be moved. No one is creating laws to protect people from insulting me, nor do I desire anyone to. While I may not like it, I am a firm believer in the right to free speech.
In the article, Carroll countered that officers have to be able to react to disrespectful behavior, or else riots will escalate. Essentially Carroll is trying to tell Black people to sit down, shut up, and don’t dare attempt to challenge the very people that are killing them.
What Carroll and many other legislators don’t understand is that you cannot legislate respect. You cannot make a law to earn respect. You cannot make a law to demand that people respect those that wear a police uniform. Respect is earned.
The community didn’t sully the profession of the Louisville Metro Police. The LMPD did that all on their own. The LMPD did that when they molested children. The LMPD did that when they pulled Tae-Ahn Lea from his car. The LMPD did that when they killed Breonna Taylor. The LMPD did that when they tried to frame Kenneth Walker. The LMPD sullied their uniform when they tried to cover up officers sexually abusing children. The LMPD did that when they reassigned an officer who sexually abused a child and then, to sully the uniform, even more, gave him a raise. The LMPD did that when they hired Brett Hankinson even after Lexington’s police department said they would not rehire him. The LMPD did that when Brett Hankinson was accused of “allegedly” sexually assaulting women, yet they continued to elect him to the merit board.
Even today, the LMPD continue to sully their profession. Today we learned Officer Brad Schumman didn’t receive any jail time for first-degree sexual abuse charges but was sentenced to two years probation with six months of home confinement and payment of two thousand dollars. Officer Schumman abused a victim identified as B.L. in his police cruiser and sought sexual pictures and acts from her. In court, his victim said he was a monster and a predator. Does Senator Carroll want to censor this victim? Is this victim allowed to call the officer that sexually abused her a monster and a predator? Does Senator Carroll wish to tell this victim about disrespectful language? What words should this victim use to address the Louisville Metro Police Officer that sexually abused her?
Officer Schumman, like so many officers in Louisville and beyond, BROKE their contract with the community. The police work for the people, and they are supposed to protect and serve the people they work for. The police broke that contract when they put Eric Garner in a chokehold. The police broke that contract when they shot and killed Mike Brown even as he had his hands up in the air. The police broke that contract when they killed Elijah McClain. The police broke that contract when they put their knee on George Floyd’s neck for almost ten minutes as he cried out to his deceased mother.
THE CONTRACT IS BROKEN!
NULL IN VOID!
You do not get to demand that I respect my oppressor! You do not get to demand that I respect officers that have teargassed me for doing nothing but demanding justice! You do not get to demand that I respect the very people that are killing those that look like me! You do not have the luxury to sit in your ivory tower and write laws that demand that I respect people who have shown that they have absolutely no respect for Black people!
There is an old Negro proverb that explains this very well, and it says, “You got me fucked up!”