Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Tennessean Reporter Implicated Police Chief Serpas in Racism Allegations

Metro Police Chief Ronal Serpas says in these kinds of neighborhoods, where redevelopment brings strangers together at a speedy rate, calls to police about "suspicious" people have been frequent. And all too often, "suspicious" seems to mean young, black and male.

It is crystal clear that Tennessean reporter Janell Ross is implicating Chief Serpas in the argument that in the Salemtown/Germantown area white people call the police with few other causes and on few other suspicions than that there is a young, black male on their street. If Serpas really intended to say that, then he owes many of us in Salemtown who have called the police for other reasons an explanation.

More importantly, he needs to address why the officers at Metro’s Central Precinct encourage us almost every time they see us to call them as frequently as we suspect something. On Saturday Friday evening while I was out fooling around with my vehicle (and probably while Janell Ross was working on her story), a Central Precinct Lieutenant stopped by and told me that they were having trouble with suspected teenagers in the neighborhood staying out of school and burglarizing houses during the day. Anyone here can tell you that the lion’s share of teens are not white, but black.

So, to whom am I supposed to listen if I see a truant teen during the day in Salemtown? (Truancy is breaking the law). Am I supposed to listen to Janell Ross’s filter of Ronal Serpas and not call police about the “young, black and male” for fear of the charge of racism? Or am I supposed to listen to the same precinct officer who attends our association meetings and our neighborhood events on a regular basis, and call the police in order to prevent more burglaries?

If Janell Ross or the Tennessean won’t respond to these questions, then I would hope that we could get an answer directly from our Chief of Police.

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