#4 – The Prince William County Board of County Supervisors, Part III
“I hope you and your family get shot!” I served during Vietnam and Afghanistan and I never was greeted this way once. This man was using “fighting words” language as defined by Martilla v. City of Lynchburg so I’m not just making this stuff up. My name is Jamie Beletz, it’s not about me.
This same man, a white man, was allowed to walk up through a crowd of protesters by police, allowed into a public building to exercise his civil rights and attend a hearing of the Prince William County Board of County Supervisors while the crowd of protesters, largely of color, were denied theirs. Instead, four of the protesters were threatened with criminal prosecution, threatened with pepper spray, falsely arrested for assault and battery. One by one the four individuals, people of color, were brought into the courthouse, handcuffed and locked up.
Ironically, while the police were clearly abusing their power outside, they were being heaped with praise by the Prince William County Board of County Supervisors inside. That’s right. Praise which included the words “for their steadfast commitment to fairly and impartially enforcing the law, and for faithfully honoring the constitutional rights of all.”
This is the 50th Anniversary of the Prince William County Police Department. A police department with a long history of anti-black racism. A police force which only weeks ago used chemical agents and rubber bullets to disperse protesters. A police force which disproportionately targets minorities by police stops using bias based profiling. A police force notorious for using excessive force and denial of medical care. A police force, when nobody is looking, is still choosing to divide a community, not unite one.
The last thing, if I were a county supervisor in Prince William County, that I would want to do is heap praise on a police force that has a culture of corruption and racism-especially if I was elected to make a change. I’m not for defunding the police, just changing the culture.
In service to America, I worked with the Afghan National Police, Afghan Border Police and other local and regional police forces in that country and it wasn’t any better and it wasn’t much worse. And for the same reason. It’s the culture. Or maybe it’s just because the cops in Prince William County who are anti-black racists have been allowed to run their department with no oversight by people who aren’t. It’s time for new supervision, it’s time for senior leadership changes starting with the County Executive and working our way down the chain of command.
Either way, I’m Jamie Beletz, It’s not about me.