A Facebook post by Richmond Vice Major Jovanka Beckles suggesting Richmond’s police defend homophobia and violence against women has outraged local cops.
In a statement Tuesday, the Richmond Police Officers Association (RPOA) lambasted Beckles’ Saturday Facebook post as “irresponsible” and “offensive.” In her post (see below), the vice mayor, who is seeking re-election in November, criticized the RPOA for endorsing one of her political foes, Councilmember Nat Bates, who is running for mayor.
In the same post, Beckles accused Bates of being homophobic and a defender of violence against women and stated RPOA’s endorsement of him is “scary.”
Beckles’ suggestion that police don’t enforce the laws protecting homosexuals and women sets back the progress RPD has made in the community, according to police officials. RPD has received praise in recent years for reducing crime through community policing. The RPOA called Beckles’ attempt to upend that effort for political gain “shameful.”
“Richmond police officers consider violence against women and sexual discrimination as serious issues in our community,” said police Sgt. Stina Johanson, an 11-year veteran who has worked in the past on domestic violence, sexual assault, child and elder abuse cases.
RPOA has endorsed Bates for mayor because he is a “retired probation officer who has always been a strong supporter of our work to combat domestic violence and crime against women,” Detective Hector Esparza said.
After evaluating all candidates in the November election, the RPOA “determined that Ms. Beckles has a history of acting irresponsibly on the crime prevention issues we take seriously,” Esparza said.“These recent irresponsible attacks and inflammatory remarks prove to us that we made the right decision in not endorsing her for re-election.”
The irony of Beckles’ accusation is that she and her fellow Richmond Progressive Alliance candidates have been touting RPD’s successes in reducing crime through community policing. The group’s top campaign issue is that its members should be re-elected because Richmond is “safer.”
“More police, more community involvement, better policing,” the group states.
The RPOA also noted that it is Beckles, not Bates, who is known to make hateful and offensive remarks. At least twice recently, she has cursed in a public forum. She also called constituents who she has not agreed with on issues “ignorant black people.”
In a letter Beckles e-mailed to a white constituent during a July council meeting, Beckles penned the statements “scum bag N—-” when referencing black council members and also stated, “all you Cracka’s deserve to die.” Beckles defended the statements by saying they were made in an attempt to oppose offensive remarks made against her sexuality by public members.
But members of the public and her colleagues questioned why Beckles, a mental health professional, thought the statements were necessary or effective.
Bates says Beckles’ lack of accomplishments on City Council leaves her no choice but to engage in “hateful” and “baseless” political attacks against him.
UPDATE 2:30 p.m.: Ms. Beckles responded via email Tuesday afternoon to the RPOA’s statement: “The article writer knowingly takes quotes and actions out of context. I have been a strong supporter of the Richmond Police who have done a great job with community policing. However the Richmond Police Officers Association does not reflect the views of most of the great police officers. The RPOA is famous for its dirty hit pieces in every election.”