Garland, Texas (TFC) – Chief Mike Broadnax of Rowlett allowed himself to be interviewed after a Black History Month presentation at a middle school hurt his feelings. He referred to the presentation as a “direct attack” on law enforcement. The “attack” consisted of a few teenage students holding up signs that read “Just Young Black and Talking”, “Black Lives Matter”, “Hands up, Don’t Shoot”, “I Can’t Breathe”, and “The Whole System is Guilty”.
As if to illustrate their point, the local police chief used his media lapdogs to criticize those who were exercising their constitutionally protected rights. Those would be the rights Broadnax is supposed to be protecting. It’s almost as if being “Just young, black, and talking” was a crime or that “the whole system is guilty” of believing their lives and rights don’t matter.
Broadnax called for the censoring of speech saying, “Allowing this only promotes the discontent and hatred for police to continue.”
It might be hard for a department that has never had an officer killed to understand what a “direct attack” is, so allow me to demonstrate:
A “direct attack” might be when someone points out the chief is behaving like a thug employed by some totalitarian regime to control the populace. Let’s get something straight, you do not have the right to censor speech. It is not your position to determine what speech to “allow”. Your position is one of protecting the rights of the community and solving crimes. There was no crime committed here and your agency provided no service, so you have absolutely no stake in this.
Exactly which message was a direct attack on you and the boys in blue? Do black lives not matter? Is it ok to shoot someone with their hands up? Do you believe the death of Eric Garner was acceptable? Is there a problem with young black Americans talking? You’ve proven through your actions the whole system is guilty. The fact that you believe you have the authority or position to use the power of your office to discourage free speech is a travesty.
What actually “promotes the discontent and hatred for police” is officers and police chiefs who don’t know the limitations of their power. In plain English: you do not get to determine what people think or say. You do not get to determine how schools are run. You do not get to use the power of your office to pick on children. You’re behaving like a playground bully who finally got socked in the nose. You can cry to mommy media all you’d like, but nobody cares. Your response proved the students were right. You’re exhibiting every behavior they pointed out and don’t even realize it.
If you had chosen to exercise your right to free speech as a private citizen, that would be just fine. However, you chose to make these statements while using the title “Chief”. That means you’re acting as a representative of the government. The First Amendment was designed to protect the citizens from the government, not the other way around. Mike Broadnax has First Amendment protections “Chief Broadnax” does not. I would suggest you spend some time at that middle school over the next few weeks, preferably in a civics class. You probably won’t like what you learn there. You are an employee of the citizens. Your job is to protect them. You are not their censor.
I know people of your ilk don’t care about the rights of the people under your jurisdiction, but maybe you’ll care about a Supreme Court ruling. In Tinker v. Des Moines (1969), the Supreme Court upheld the right of students to wear politically charged clothing. Students protesting the Vietnam War showed their disapproval by wearing black armbands. They were suspended and the case wound up in the US Supreme Court. In a 7-2 ruling, the Court sided with the students and said:
“Students don’t shed their constitutional rights at the school house gates.”
In other words, this dispute has already been settled. Sit down, shut up, and leave these students alone. The students know how to contact me. If they are harassed, targeted, or picked on in any way by the thugs you have on your payroll, I will make it my personal mission to tear your department apart. These students have shown more civic responsibility than you or any of your officers. They are taking part in a national discussion about the mistreatment of people at the hands of the police. You will not suppress their voice.
Love and Kisses,
P.S. On Monday, I’ll be requesting a copy of your department’s use of NCIC over the last week. If your officers ran these students or their parents, you can expect a visit from the FBI’s civil rights division.