By Michael Friedrich, CityLab, October 27, 2019
Standing before the congregation of the Progressive Community Church of Stockton, California, Eric Jones, the city’s police chief, apologized.
It was July 2016, in the furious days after the police shootings of Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, and Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Those were followed closely by the deadly ambush of police officers in Dallas, Texas, and in Baton Rouge after protests over the Sterling killing. Nationwide, police departments were assuming a protective posture as outrage roiled cities like Chicago, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Los Angeles. But Jones was out in his community, talking about the role of police in everything from pre-Civil War slave-catching to Jim Crow enforcement and the carceral policies of the War on Drugs.
“This needs to be said,” the white police chief told the largely African American congregation. “There was a time when police used to be dispatched to keep lynchings ‘civil,’ That’s a fact of our history that we need to acknowledge.”