White Ohio police chief explains BLM support: ‘We have to listen to people’

A white Ohio police chief, Doug Swartz, is encouraging Black Lives Matter protests in his town

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A white police chief in Ohio welcomes Black Lives Matter protests in the predominantly white town of Canal Fulton, because “the Black community needs us.”

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Doug Swartz, Canal Fulton’s police chief for the past eight years, also authors a monthly column that tackles various issues, CNN reports. He has used the month of September to center the Black Lives Matter movement that was rejuvenated following the death of George Floyd in May.

People march in the street during a demonstration on June 25, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

The Canton Repository recently picked up on Swartz’s commentary about why Black Lives Matter needed to resonate in his small town. The police chief wrote that he was often asked why Fulton had to reckon with race as there have been no protests in the area thus far.

Swartz said the answer lay with the U.S. Constitution as declared on July 4, 1776. He invoked how the Black community was still not free of racism despite the ideals outlined in the document and continues to face significant obstacles such as housing and education discrimination.

“How do you know about it, if you don’t know about it,” he said. “If there are struggles that are going on in predominately Black neighborhoods, we don’t know about it, our kids go to schools that are predominately white. And we’re a byproduct of that history with the things that are wrong in today’s society. That’s why we have to listen to people and hear from them to see how we can make things better.”

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A mural painted by artist Kenny Altidor depicting George Floyd is unveiled on a sidewall of CTown Supermarket on July 13, 2020 in Brooklyn, New York. Floyd was killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis and his death has sparked a national reckoning about race and policing in the United States. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)

Swartz made it clear that he does not support riots, vandalism, or calls to defund the police. He said those actions were “causing hate,” and wants to follow the model of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to work together as one community. He encourages protests and voting for legislation that would improve African American’s lives.

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“It begins by active listening and the understanding of our long-term goals, even well past our own lives, as well as history’s misdeeds,” he wrote. “Recognizing the rights of everyone including the right to peacefully protest, wherever and whenever, is a key element of fostering change for any good cause.”

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