BmoreBloc Response BPD Police Commissioner Statement

Baltimore Bloc condemns the insensitive and deliberately provocative comments made by Anthony Batts last night. Batts asked whether protestors would march for the officer who was non-fatally shot in West Baltimore. Though we are well aware that Batts’s question was rhetorical and disingenuous, we will address it in case the community is genuinely curious about why we protest for BPD’s victims and not officers:

Police officers are sworn to protect and serve the community. They are aware this is a dangerous job, as is the community who pays them for this service, arms them with several weapons at a time, and provides them with bulletproof vests and other protective gear that in some cases we are not legally permitted to own ourselves. This is quite different from the circumstances surrounding the in-custody murders of unarmed civilians by those same extremely armed and protected agents of the state.

When a police officer is shot or otherwise harmed in the line of duty, the assailant is almost always apprehended (or killed) immediately. This was in fact the case in last night’s shooting. The suspect was tased and arrested and is now in a jail cell. Contrast this with the beating death of Tyrone West, whose family will protest this Wednesday for the 73rd consecutive week. Mr. West was attacked and ultimately killed by more than 10 BPD officers. During the attack, he repeatedly begged for his life as he was punched, kicked, beaten with weapons, tased, maced, and choked. When Mr. West was on the ground, rather than call for help or render any assistance or attempt lifesaving measures, one officer sat on his chest until he died, while the other officers did nothing. None of those officers has been arrested, indicted, tried, sentenced, or even suspended from their jobs. They all continued working for BPD and are still all on the street, still armed, and still receiving pay out of our tax money. Tyrone West’s own family, taxpayers and residents of Baltimore City, are still paying their loved one’s murderers to “protect” them.

The officer who was shot last night received immediate medical assistance and is in stable condition now and recovering at Sinai Hospital. We learned this morning that the officer’s name will not be released to the public until his out-of-town relatives are able to be reached and informed of his condition, and even to get to Baltimore to be with him. This month, the West family will spend their second Christmas without Tyrone. And they will in January reach the 18-month mark of their fight to even see his full autopsy report. They didn’t get the chance to say goodbye. They aren’t even allowed to read a full account of what happened to him.

What the West family and Baltimore Bloc have been protesting is the brutal killing by police of an unarmed man from their family and dozens of other unarmed Black people in Baltimore City; the callous disregard for human life by the police during and after those killings; the complete lack of interest by the Commissioner, the Mayor, City Council, and the State’s Attorney in seeking justice for Tyrone West or any other victim of police brutality; and the complete lack of interest by those same people and entities in removing brutal cops from our communities.

Batts’s horrible “question” disrespects the work of this movement by erasing its motivation with false equivalency. More important, it once again dishonors and dismisses the lives his department has brutally stolen. Baltimore Bloc demands an immediate apology from Batts and the Department, and we demand that the Mayor and City Council join us in condemning his statement.

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