This public comment was read to the Macomb City Council on October 12, 2020. We define a “Town Hall” as an OPEN conversation, transparent, on the record, with journalists and all community members welcome, whether or not they choose to identify their name.
In this time of COVID, it could easily be accomplished via Zoom. It is concerning that our city leaders still refuse to conduct open, unscripted, transparent conversations about the concerns our Black community members, including our WIU and Spoon River students have brought to their attention.
Oct 12, 2020
***Public Comment: Mayor Inman, give us a Town Hall on Race Issues in Macomb***
This past Friday we held a protest against White Nationalism with our Racial Justice Coalition and the Macomb PrideFest community, including over a dozen WIU students. Officer Jeff Hamer can give an opinion as to how we conducted ourselves at our event.
We had a peaceful event from our side of things, despite being targeted for hateful comments and gestures. But on Saturday, Macomb Police Officer J.P. McLaughlin posted an attack on the wall of her tactical business’s website against a woman with whom he had a negative interaction with on the square prior to our event and had nothing to do with us nor our org.
The woman had decided to attend our #BlackLivesMatter protest. She is not a member, but has attended some protests. When Det. McLaughlin posted his comments, he used generalized, dehumanizing language against ALL of our protestors.
Our leaders and members tried to correct his factually inaccurate statements, but he deleted those and blocked us from replying. Though he later edited his original post and removed the subsequent bullying posts, yet the fact remains that he allowed hateful, degrading, bullying posts about our women and Black and other People of color to go unchecked on his business wall for hours.
Bullying and threatening comments were made as responses to HIS original post. This included some from several concealed carry owners, former MPD officers, former paramedics from MDH, and Sheriff’s Department deputies, and men with histories of violence against women.
That we live in a community where our police officers can and do feel free to use their personal business to post a virtual target on our backs is unacceptable. Doing it in response civil-rights organizing is disruption sock puppetry. This tacit-threat-By-Proxy/Provocation is an anti-democratic silencing tactic which has, as no doubt intended, caused us to fear for our safety.
Shame on Macomb P.D. for it’s refusal to hold it’s officers accountable for this dangerous, reckless behavior. Shame on Det. J.P. McLaughlin.
MPD, your leadership’s silencing tactics of fear and intimidation are a message received. Your leaders have once AGAIN dehumanized, lied about, and set hateful people to harass our women online, leading us to fear being targeted for violence in real life. Your officers have repeatedly provoked and provided a forum for beating up on us online. That you are willing to actively provoke negative sentiments and tacit threats of violence against marginalized women and Black folx and other People of Color asking for equality is a disgrace to the decent officers who wear a badge.
As for Officer Tedrow’s displeasure with our calling people out on the racist actions and statements, and his issue with us calling Trump a Nazi, it would be appreciated if he could leave personal politics out of our interactions when we are trying to call for help from now on.
If anything ever happens to any of us, please evaluate all police roles in any violence against us. We certainly would hope this city’s and MPD’S leadership’s intense dislike of our org, leaders, members and platform wouldn’t affect the “protection” and “service” we are ALSO supposed to receive. But it has – and continues to do so. And the actions of several of your own white officers are actively making us feel and possibly be less safe.
We are anti-racist feminist Democrats. We are quite aware that most in city leadership and MPD are mostly Trump-supporting conservatives. We are not going to agree on much ideologically. We have strong opinions about your departmental culture, and we are wanting officers held accountable for wrongdoing. It’s fine to be mad about it.
But we should all agree that sworn police officers using a private business to provide a forum for a virtual hate-fest against us is unacceptable and should not be repeated.
To intentionally provide a platform to subject us to online bullying and further targeting for possible violence crosses a line that NO HEALTHY HUMAN BEING SHOULD CROSS.
We will be turning in a formal complaint against her, MPD, and we once again renew our calls for disgraceful do-nothing Mayor Mike Inman to step down, for Corrupt Chief Barker to step down or be removed, for Macomb PD to be investigated and restructured.
Now we demand Macomb Police Detective JP McLaughlin be investigated, as well, for unprofessional, inappropriate, and unacceptable behavior.
We have #NoConfidence left in our city leadership, nor in our police department. The silence and refusal by Mayor Inman to put a discussion about our police and the racism in our community is open obstruction.
We are living in fear, and this has been the reality in our community for far too many of our people. And it’s once again because of the actions of the police.
Mayor Inman, we demand a discussion about our police be put on the agenda for a special meeting. NOW.
Heather McMeekan, President
Democratic Women of McDonough County