YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — The union representing the city’s patrol officers has taken issue with remarks Mayor Jamael Tito Brown made at a memorial service earlier this week for George Floyd.
In the letter, which the union released Wednesday, President James Rowley said members are upset about remarks Brown made at a memorial service where Brown was quoted in a local newspaper as saying “we’ve got to worry about being arrested, tried and executed at the curb by law enforcement.”
Brown said he had not seen the letter when contacted by a reporter, but he said his remarks were not about Youngstown police but about the deaths of black men across the country that were highlighted by the Floyd case.
Floyd, a black man, was killed after an encounter with Minneapolis, Minn., police last year who were called for a complaint about a counterfeit $20 bill. One of the officers involved in his death, Derek Chauvin, was recently convicted of murder for kneeling on the back of Floyd’s neck for several minutes until he stopped breathing. Several other officers are set for trial this summer for their roles in the death as well.
Brown’s remarks came Wednesday at a memorial service at a local church with others who have been championing police reform in the city.
Rowley said in his letter that the union believes “this divisive rhetoric has gone for far too long.” He said the mayor should mention that it has been over 10 years since a person was killed by city police and that shooting was justified.
Rowley also said Youngstown’s rate of force in their interactions with citizens is very low, about .10 percent of all police interactions with people. He said that is something Brown should talk about when speaking about police.
Brown said he always praises Youngstown officers, and he knows how hard they train and work.
“I’ve never been shy about saying that,” Brown said.
He said his remarks were geared toward nationwide concerns about the deaths of black people who interact with police.
“They should be upset that law enforcement are taking the law into their own hands,” Brown said.
Rowley said in his letter that blanket statements like those he said Brown made are wrong and dangerous.
“Hyperbolic statements claiming that we are out here harming residents when it is just not true is dangerous and downright wrong,” Rowley wrote. “It creates the idea that we are an adversary instead of an ally.”