So this happened.
Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay is facing some scathing criticism after he showed up at a New Year’s Eve celebration holding a sign denouncing racism in the workplace.
Let’s recap. A man is under fire for wanting to end racism.
But the sign, which read “I Resolve To Challenge Racism @ Work. #EndWhiteSilence,” wasn’t perceived as positive from a local police union, who suggested McLay was saying police in the department were racists.
“The chief is calling us racists. He believes the Pittsburgh Police Department is racist. This has angered a lot of officers,” police union president Howard McQuillan told KDKA.
The photograph of McLay holding the sign, which reportedly belonged to an activist at the event who asked McLay to pose with the message, was shared via Facebook by Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, who thought it would be a “great way to start the new year.”
“I thought there was very little chance for someone to say this was the wrong message to send,” Peduto told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
The police union, however, did not agree. On Friday, McQuillan sent an email to McLay bashing his actions and suggested the message was detrimental to departmental relationships.
“…The recent Twitter photo has restarted the rebuilding of a wall between the Chief’s Office and the rank and file, that we have been working tirelessly to tear down for some time now. We need to repair the department’s morale, then work our way outward to the community,” the union president wrote.
“…Our current Chief of Police (is) insinuating that we are now racist, merely by the color of our skin and the nature of our profession. I say enough is enough!” McQuillan wrote.
McLay responded with his own email, apologizing to police who were offended by the sign.
It appears my having been photographed with a sign supporting racial justice at work and “white silence” has offended some. If any of my PBP family was offended, I apologize. You are very important to me and I would never hurt you purposefully.
He did, however, defend the language in the sign, expressing his commitment to end racism in the workplace.
“The reality of U.S. policing is that our enforcement efforts have a disparate impact on communities of color…The sign indicated my willingness to challenge racial problems in the workplace. I am so committed. If there are problems in the PBP related to racial injustice, I will take action to fix them.
To me, the term “white silence” simply means that we must be willing to speak up to address issues of racial injustice, poverty, etc. In my heart, I believe we all must come together as community to address real world problems; and I am willing to be a voice to bring community together.
I saw no indictment of police or anyone else in this sign, but I do apologize to any of you who felt I was not supporting you; that was not my intent.”
Still, the mayor of Pittsburgh stands by McLay’s decision to pose with the sign:
“I think it was the right thing to do. What he’s basically saying is there is not a perceived problem, there is a problem. It’s not only within Pittsburgh, it’s across this county,” Peduto told Pittsburgh’s Action News 4.
Click here to read McLay’s entire email to the department.