Outrage, disgust, and sadness were the emotions I felt as a court-observer when Benton Harbor police officer Wes Smigielski gave his testimony in December. He said he called Child Protective Services "on a victim." The young mother is not a victim and is not a bad parent; Smigielski just wasn't getting the answers he wanted from her. (see blog post below)
Rev Edward Pinkney
Because of Smigielski, this innocent Benton Harbor woman now has a felony record. She was charged with perjury.
Surprise, shock, and disbelief were the emotions felt by black and white Americans who learned about this miscarriage of justice. By calling Child Protective Services, Smigielski violated the woman's civil and human rights.
For white people who are bigots, their world is one of white privilege which confers not only power and opportunity, but also a presumption of innocence and the right to protection.
It is a world in which the police are, if not exactly friends, certainly not enemies. More often than not, if the player is black and the police officer is white, the officer receives benefit of the doubt.
Police misconduct, whether described as brutality, harassment, discourtesy, dishonesty, or calling Child Protective Services to ruin lives, it cannot be tolerated. It is inconsistent with the ethical functioning of a police department in a democracy.
A police department must have rules prohibiting such misconduct and enforce them vigorously. Police chiefs should be aware of what takes place in the field and take firm steps to correct abuses.
We demand the immediate termination of Wes Smigielski from the Benton Harbor police department.
Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.
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