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Kentucky attorney general must do more than 'back the blue.' He should protect our rights.

Saying 'back the blue' is doing nothing more than poking a finger in they eye of every Black man or woman who have suffered at the hands of police who have targeted them because of their color.

Louisville Courier Journal

It was just about 35 seconds after Russell Coleman stepped to the mic to declare victory in Kentucky’s attorney general’s race that he said the words that are so divisive.

“We will defend your family, we will defend your rights and we will back the blue,” Coleman said.

Back the blue?

If you’ve paid any attention over the last four years, you’ve heard Coleman’s predecessor, Daniel Cameron, say the same thing over and over.

We’ll all be better off if Coleman stopped.

Russell Coleman, who was elected as Kentucky's Attorney General, listens to out-going Attorney General Daniel Cameron at a press conference last year. It's time for Coleman to retire Cameron's favorite catch phrase and instead of saying he u0022backs the blue,u0022 simply say he'll enforce the law.

Talk about defending people’s families? Fine.

Protecting people’s rights? You bet.

Say you’ll stand up for law and order? Great.

But “back the blue?”

That’s not your job.

Especially when “the blue,” at least in Louisville, has a track record of abusing people of color by doing things like pulling them over and subjecting them to unwarranted searches, lying to judges to obtain search warrants against them, and shooting first and asking questions later.

Dotti Lockhart raised her hand as she, her husband Bob Lockhart and Julie Driscoll sit quietly on the lawn of Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron's house as other protestors stood on the street with arms raised during a silent protest to demand Cameron complete his investigation into the killing of Breonna Taylor. Aug. 20, 2020

Some of “the blue” have even humiliated Black residents by throwing slushies at them as they walked down the street minding their own business. The city's police chief didn't even think it was a firing offense for some of the officers who took part.

Yeah, yuck it up.

Are you really going to back the blue who do those things?

If the answer is “yes,” then you’re not qualified to be Kentucky’s chief law enforcement officer.

If the answer is “no,” then stop saying it.

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We know where Cameron stood on this issue

When it came to the officers who sought the no-knock warrant to enter Breonna Taylor’s apartment on the night she died, he refused to allow the grand jury to even consider charges against those officers. And then he lied about it, saying he didn't have authority to investigate that.

And according to three grand jurors who sought to impeach him, Cameron lied when he held a press conference to announce the grand jury had filed only minor charges against one officer.

At that press conference, Cameron said his office "presented 'all of the information' and walked the grand jury through 'every homicide offense' before the Grand Jury came to its conclusion.”

The grand jurors said they were never presented with homicide charges.

He protected the cops at all costs.

It took the feds to come in later and charge the officers who told untruths to get permission to carry out the deadly raid. If it was up to Cameron, who backed the blue, they would still be on the force and would never have been charged, much less convicted.

(L-R) Protesters Grace Lewis, Tyra Thomas-Walker and Ericka Seward, of the Kentucky Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, stood outside the first debate of Kentucky's 2023 race for governor at The Henry Clay Building in Louisville, Ky. on Mar. 7, 2023.  The debate was hosted by held by the Jefferson County GOP.  The protesters were voicing their opposition to Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron's candidacy due to his handling of the Breonna Taylor case and for being "anti-woke."

The best thing to come out of the Nov. 7 election is that Cameron is no longer attorney general.

Simply put, Coleman should stop using language that is designed to divide the police from the people they are supposed to protect. If he doesn't, how can he even be involved in future cases that involve police.

Doesn't he have a stated bias?

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'Back the blue' pokes a finger in the eye of the Black community

Saying that he “backs the blue” is doing nothing more than poking a finger in they eye of every Black man or woman who have suffered at the hands of police who have targeted them because of their color.

I asked Coleman if he was going to continue to use the term and how he squared pledging his support to always “back the blue” with statements in his speech that he would protect everyone’s rights and that he would “represent all of you.”

Through his campaign spokesman, he replied, boasting about his record as U.S. attorney and citing his membership in an African American-led group that is trying to stop violence.

“I will continue building relationships between law enforcement and the communities they serve. That means establishing trust and holding accountable anyone who fails to respect Kentuckians’ rights. Upholding the rights of my fellow Kentuckians and backing the blue – much like my privilege of having served on both the Kentucky State Police Foundation and the Chris 2X Game Changers Boards at the same time – are not mutually exclusive. They are both essential to preserving law and order in Kentucky.”  

The problem comes when Coleman’s friend and his predecessor used the term “back the blue” and clearly didn’t believe in protecting the rights of individuals when the police were involved.

Using the trite expression over and over again didn't help Cameron get elected governor.

It would be better if the incoming attorney general would say, “I will protect the weak and the vulnerable who are victims of crime, and I will hold responsible all those who violate the law.”

That is what our laws and our Constitution expect, isn’t it.

Sure, it’s not as catchy as “back the blue,” but it sure would go a long way in creating trust in the community Coleman will soon be charged to protect.

Maybe, he just needs to say he’ll back the Black and the blue.

Joseph Gerth is a columnist at the Louisville Courier-Journal.

Joseph Gerth is a columnist for the Louisville Courier-Journal, where this column first published. He can be reached at 502-582-4702 or by email at jgerth@courierjournal.com.

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