I previously noted that the national Fraternal Order of Police was apparently steering donations to the legal defense fund for Darren Wilson, the police officer involved in the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Officials at Lodge 70 of the FOP in Anne Arundel County told Pamela Wood of The Baltimore Sun that they had wanted to donate money to provide food to the officers working long hours as a result of unrest in Ferguson, but the national FOP suggested they donate to the Wilson defense fund instead.
Wood wrote a follow-up article this week discussing how African-American officers have responded with criticism of the move.
A group of African-American police officers in Anne Arundel County said Monday they were “shocked” by their union’s donation to a white Missouri police officer who fatally shot an unarmed black teen.
In a letter to the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 70, which represents Anne Arundel’s rank-and-file police, the officers blasted the decision to donate to a fund for Officer Darren Wilson of the Ferguson, Mo., police department.
“While we appreciate the support that the union offers to officers in need, there comes a time where leaders must take a step back and look at the totality of their decisions,” wrote Cpl. Kam Cooke, a bike patrol officer and acting president of Anne Arundel’s Black Police Officers Association.
Cooke said members of the union were not notified before the donation was made.
“We don’t need to be discussing [the Ferguson incident] here in this jurisdiction. It’s an inflammatory incident elsewhere, let’s keep it elsewhere,” said Cooke, who said the letter represents the feelings of dozens of black officers, though it did not include a list of signatories.
Anne Arundel has 683 county police officers; 51 are African-American.
Wood previously reported that Anne Arundel County Police Chief Kevin Davis said he would “agree to disagree” about the union’s donation.
Union President O’Brien Atkinson said the donation “was not intended to express an opinion on whether the Ferguson shooting was justified or not. Rather, he said, police officers often support other officers with legal representation following incidents where they use deadly force.”
More from Atkinson:
“This isn’t about guilt or innocence. This is about due process. Everyone was clear on that when the donation was made,” Atkinson said. He said after the union’s board made the donation, he posted a notice on the union’s members-only website.
Atkinson also said the local FOP would meet about the donation next week.
Cooke, of the Black Police Officers Association, also asked in his letter if the local FOP had donated to the defense of Joseph Lamont Walker (they didn’t.)
Quinton is a native South Carolinian who has lived in Baltimore since 2006. He is a recent convert to the Catholic Church and is active in the Knights of Columbus. He has been involved in the pro-life movement nationally and locally since 2010.
Quinton is a veteran who served as an intelligence analyst in the Army National Guard. He is also an Eagle Scout.