SAN DIEGO, California — Democratic San Diego City Councilwoman Myrtle Cole has apologized after drawing attention to black-on-black shootings — and provoking the ire of Black Lives Matter activists — during a discussion of racial profiling by police.
The controversy began with Cole holding a community meeting July 19 to allow public discussion on fatal shootings involving black Americans and police, according to the San Diego Union Tribune. 200 people and several fellow city council members — council president Sherri Lightner and members Todd Gloria, David Alvarez and Lorie Zapf — attended the event in Cole’s district.
In the Tuesday, July 26 council meeting held just one week later, Cole thanked those that attended the community meeting. Cole then speficially described a group of young people that attended as disruptive and disrespectful, but that she allowed it. She then recalled in her council meeting statement that the group had brought up racial profiling. According to Cole she had responded saying that she supports her community, but wanted to bring attention to black-on-black shootings.
“There’s more black-on-black shootings in our nation than ever before, 340 shootings and murders in Chicago the first six months, 120 shootings and murders in Memphis first six months, 28 homicides here in San Diego. Black-on-black crime is an issue and that was never addressed, that’s why when someone says to you, support, you know, do you think there’s racial profiling, yeah because blacks are shooting blacks. So who do they stop? They’re not going to stop a white male, they’re not going to stop a Hispanic male or an Asian male, they’re going to stop an African American, that’s who they’re going to stop because those are the ones that’s shooting.”
After giving examples of black murders of other blacks in her own council district, Cole continued by stating that police are stopping blacks in cases where a suspect is described as black. She called for meetings to deal with black-on-black crime, including stopping black children from shooting black children.
Cole said there would be something wrong with racial profiling in which a police officer would pull over an individual 52 times in a year, but stated that such a case has not yet been seen. “Let’s also address the black on black crime in this nation,” she said.
The group “United Against Police Terror – San Diego Copwatch & Campaign for Justice” posted a video clip of Cole’s comments at the council meeting to their Twitter account on July 28, two days after the council meeting, with the comment, “San Diego City Council Member Myrtle Cole Justifies Police Racial Profiling.” The same account also posted on July 29, “There is No “War On Cops” in #SanDiego there is a War on R Community.”
Shane Harris, president of the Al Sharpton-founded National Action Network (NAN), called Cole’s comments offensive,and called for her resignation, according to local public broadcasting network KPBS. Harris had been organizing for a July 29 protest against Cole at her council office, which is located in the Tubman Chavez Center. Harris characterized Cole’s comments as a “slap in the face to minorities” across the country.
On Thursday Cole posted an apology online:
I sincerely apologize for the misunderstanding I may have caused. I'm open and willing to listen to the community. pic.twitter.com/dCsaUf9A9f
— Myrtle Cole (@CD4MyrtleCole) July 28, 2016
Late Thursday night, two San Diego police officers were shot. One died as a result of his injuries.
KPBS updated its report 9:30 a.m. on July 29: “In lieu of the protest at Councilwoman Cole’s district office, activists are holding a “vigil for peace” Friday at 6 p.m.” The “vigil” was organized by the same NAN group that had been organizing the protest against Cole.
On Friday Cole tweeted:
My heart is breaking at this tragedy unfolding. My prayers go out to the officers that have been shot. I hope and pray they go home safely.
— Myrtle Cole (@CD4MyrtleCole) July 29, 2016
My sincerest condolences to the family of the officer murdered protecting and serving us. We must stop this madness. Please pray for all.
— Myrtle Cole (@CD4MyrtleCole) July 29, 2016
Just as Dallas Chief of Police David Brown called the people of his city to apply to join the police force following the assassinations of five officers last month, Cole tweeted out an announcement on Saturday for the community to attend a police, fire and city department hiring fair:
We are hiring! Police, Fire, City dept.s having job fair at S/E Div. HQ on Skyline Come now and bring youths 18+. pic.twitter.com/bTcMUI3AHU
— Myrtle Cole (@CD4MyrtleCole) July 30, 2016
Video of Cole speaking at the council meeting has also been posted to Vimeo by user and KPBS reporter Andrew Bowen:
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