HOUSTON, Texas – A Houston city councilman has called for segregation in policing. In the wake of the officer-involved shootings of black men across the country and the assassination of Dallas police officers, the councilman said police should reflect the ethnicity of the particular community where they patrol.
Speaking to Fox 26 in Houston, City Councilman Dwight Boykins (District D), “I think at this point, because of the crisis situation, not in Houston but throughout the country, we need to have officers patrolling areas that reflect the ethnicity [of that community].”
The councilman continued, “Because that will eliminate second-guessing. People know their community; they know their culture; and I think that can make a difference.”
Weekend news anchor Sally MacDonald asked a guest on her show for a reaction to Boykins’ comments. Houston Police Officers’ Union 2nd Vice President Joseph Gamaldi responded that the idea was ludicrous and wouldn’t work.
Fox 26 Senior Legal Analyst Chris Tritico led off the weekend panel’s discussion saying, “I’m shocked at the suggestion.” Turning to his conservative panelist Jacquie Baly, Tritico said, “Well, if that doesn’t work, I guess we could have separate schools and maybe separate people in the restaurants … just keep the races separate so we won’t have to have these problems anymore.”
Baly, a black Republican from Fort Bend County, laughed off Tritico’s obvious sarcasm and responded, “I think I understand where the councilman was trying to go. We don’t have the resources for something like that. We have diversity in a lot of cities.”
She went on to describe the large Asian community in her city of Sugarland, located southwest of Houston. “There were things that would come up that our police officers didn’t understand, like how the Asian community reacts to certain types of things.” She said the leaders in her community got involved with the Asian community’s churches and other gathering places to learn more about their needs and customs.”
“I think he was saying we need to have people who understand the community,” she continued. “He is saying you have to look like the community. I am saying you understand the community by getting involved with the leaders, getting involved with community itself… so that the people in the community can feel comfortable with you. And, you can feel comfortable patrolling the area.”
Tritico responded that he finds the councilman’s suggestion “a step backwards past the 1964 Civil Rights Act.”
Former Harris County Democrat Chairman Gerald Birnberg weighed in saying, after clarifying that he was friends with Boykins and goes to baseball games with him, “I’m baffled by that one. For one thing, we don’t have an equal number of African-American police officers as we do African-American members of the community. For another, what does that say about an African-American who dares to venture outside of ‘their neighborhood’ where they’re not predominantly there. What about the Latino community which is dispersed throughout the entirety of Harris County?”
Birnberg agreed with Baly’s position that people need to get to know one another and “not to go back being in our own shell, and ‘my community is my community’ and ‘your community is your community.”
MacDonald interjected some comments from viewers via the Fox 26 Facebook page where Kevin Lankford wrote, “Saying we should only assign officer of the same ethnicity to a neighborhood is the problem.” Willie Koonce replied, “I believe that Mr. Boykins is proposing that officers reside in the neighborhoods which they patrol. This serves two functions. First the likelihood of the officer knowing his neighbors … and secondly, reduces the tensions between cops and the ppl [sic] coming under their jurisdiction.”
Tritico said Boykins’ suggestion doesn’t solve the problem, “it deepens it.”
Boykins did not say what should happen if a black person needs the police and a black officer is not available. Nor did he address how to dispatch officers to a multi-ethnic community, which is what many more communities are made up of.
The councilman’s District D boundaries include parts of south and southeast Houston that have a high percentage of black residents. It is also the community where Alva Braziel, a black man, was shot by two Hispanic Houston police officers after he was observed waving a gun around in the middle of the streets. He was only shot when he pointed the gun directly at the officers as shown in the video above.
Boykins did not address how a black officer would have handled that situation any differently.
Breitbart Texas reached out to Councilman Boykins’ office for any clarifications he might make to make to his remarks. Mayor Sylvester Turner’s office was also contacted for a response. No comments were immediately available.
UPDATE (6:20pm Central): Mayor Sylvester Turner’s office contacted Breitbart Texas shortly after this article was published. Communications Director Janice Evans said Mayor Turner never took the council member’s comments seriously. She also said Councilman Boykins has retracted the statement.
Breitbart Texas asked for proof of that retraction and was subsequently asked to contact the council member for a response. The council member still has not responded to Breitbart Texas’ request. Breitbart Texas has not been able to find any public statement by Councilman Boykins retracting or clarifying his remarks on Fox 26.
Following is the response from Mayor Turner’s office in its entirety:
“CM Boykins has retracted that statement. Mayor Turner never took it seriously. It was something said in the moment that has now been retracted.”