Ugly. Brutal. Disgusting. Disrespectful. Divisive.
And that is just for starters.
The Shreveport city council meeting on Tuesday was all of that and more.
The confirmation of Ben Raymond was ultimately approved by a unanimous vote.
Actually it took four unanimous votes. The first to suspend the rules to consider adding an agenda topic. Then actually adding the topic–Raymond’s nomination.
Then a second motion to suspend the rules to vote on Raymond at that meeting. Then the actual vote confirming Raymond.
In the process many speakers took the opportunity to tear into Shreveport mayor Adrian Perkins and council members, especially the four black council members. Collectively, they were called everything but sons of God.
To those loudly denouncing Raymond—speakers and audience members alike–the facts were no object. The complaints ranged from illogical to absurd.
The Raymond opponents were upset that he had not walked on water during his 11 month term as provisional police chief. Every misdeed of every police officer since his Nov. 2018 appointment was attributed to Raymond
They conveniently forgot that the last three police chief were black–Henry Whitehorn, Willie Shaw, and Alan Crump. Or that Perkins took office after 12 years of black mayors–Cedric Glover and Ollie Tyler.
While labeling the elected officials as racist, the angry mob’s attitude and comments spoke loudly to their own racial bias. Threats, not so subtle, were voiced against the mayor and the black council members.
Perkins was visibly stressed at the press conference Monday announcing Raymond as his choice and at Tuesday council meeting. He said the police chief decision was the hardest he had ever made.
After the Raymond vote, Perkins spoke passionately for unity in the city.
"This is the moment for us to actually come together as a community, to stand behind the police chief and move forward so that your kids won’t have to deal with what I dealt with, and they won’t have to deal with what you dealt with. But instead, all you hear is ‘Black this, White this.’
We have to stop this if we’re going to move forward."
Where Shreveport goes from the perspective of racial diversity is still an open question. The confirmation hearing and all the noise leading up to the vote was destructive.
Much like a hangover, how long the headache will last is unknown. Just like any lessons learned from the binge.