Detroit Police Sergeant Under Investigation After Criticism of Beyonce’s Superbowl Performance

BPowerLogoThere is a free speech controversy brewing out of Detroit where an unnamed police sergeant is under investigation for expressing his opinion about the controversial Beyonce performance in the halftime show of the Superbowl. Beyonce dressed herself and her dancers like Black Panthers and formed a X in an apparent reference to Malcolm X. Police around the country objected to the glorification of an organization that has advocated violence against police. The sergeant compared the performance to one featuring the KKK on Facebook and is now facing possible discipline.

I have previously written about concerns that public employees are increasingly being disciplined for actions in their private lives or views or associations outside of work. We have previously seen teachers, students and other public employees fired for their private speech or conduct, including school employees fired for posing in magazines, appearing on television shows in bikinis, or having a career in the adult entertainment industry.

In this case, the sergeant posted a photo of Beyonce’s dancers above a group wearing white Ku Klux Klan robes and wrote: “So if the dance troupe at the top is ok for this years’ halftime show, then the one at the bottom should be ok for next years’, right?”

UnknownThe sergeant’s point does not appear to advocate that the KKK should be in the next show but rather to raise the comparative question of why the Black Panthers are permissible as a model while the KKK is not. One can clearly disagree with the comparison but it is an example of pure political and social speech by someone in their personal time. He was reported by his co-workers to Police Chief James Craig. However, the objection is to the sergeant’s political views — views that reflect the overwhelming anger of police organizations toward Beyonce who they view as relying on police protection at her events but glorifies an anti-police organization.

As in the earlier cases, these investigations create an intended chilling effect on employees who are less likely to speak their views outside of work. I am not sure why this matter was not addressed as an exercise of free speech by the department. What is most disturbing is the lack of a clear line as to the extent to which officers and other public employees are allowed to engage in free speech in their private lives. This investigation would seem to convey that you speak your mind at your own peril.

54 thoughts on “Detroit Police Sergeant Under Investigation After Criticism of Beyonce’s Superbowl Performance”

  1. Malcolm X would eviscerate Beyonce and that ilk. They are clueless about Macolm’s message.

  2. phillyT
    1, February 11, 2016 at 6:34 pm
    Yes, the MOVE organization was a bunch of black terrorists.
    The Black Panthers were a bunch of black terrorists.
    The armed white thugs who took over Malheur are just patriots, you know, protesting their rights as Jesus intended.


    I didn’t excuse the Oregon group by calling them patriots. And to object to my saying the Oregon group’s actions were less repulsive you have to believe the distinction between actual violence and carrying a gun is irrelevant.

    When you have to mischaracterize someone in order to accuse them of racism it’s a good sign your accusation is bunk.

  3. Paul – The NAACP has whites and even has whites leading some of its local units. So, too, should be the Black Panthers.

    Including whites would not necessarily prove it wasn’t a racist organization. That would depend on many other things, this one is superficial.

    1. Rick – you are correct. The Black Panthers would need whites in leadership positions.

  4. Yes, the MOVE organization was a bunch of black terrorists.
    The Black Panthers were a bunch of black terrorists.
    The armed white thugs who took over Malheur are just patriots, you know, protesting their rights as Jesus intended.


  5. Paul C. Schulte.
    the day the Black Panthers allow whites into their organization is the day they are not racist.

    This is a poor criterion. Besides which the objection is less that they are racist and more that they advocated and committed violence to achieve their political goals. Recall that two weeks ago people (including on this site) were calling the Oregon group domestic terrorists and advocating violence against them for carrying guns and squatting. But these same people are willing to overlook murder if it was committed by an ideological / political ally.

    People reveal themselves if you pay attention.

    1. Rick – it is an excellent criterion. The NAACP has whites and even has whites leading some of its local units. So, too, should be the Black Panthers.

  6. These are the words of the Black Panther Leader;

    “In Its Own Words”
    “Our lessons talk about the bloodsuckers of the poor… . It’s that old no-good Jew, that old imposter Jew, that old hooked-nose, bagel-eating, lox-eating, Johnny-come-lately, perpetrating-a-fraud, just-crawled-out-of-the-caves-and-hills-of-Europe, so-called damn Jew … and I feel everything I’m saying up here is kosher.”
    — Khalid Abdul Muhammad, one of the party’s future leaders, Baltimore, Md., Feb. 19, 1994

    “Kill every goddamn Zionist in Israel! Goddamn little babies, goddamn old ladies! Blow up Zionist supermarkets!”

    —Malik Zulu Shabazz, the party’s national chairman, protesting at B’nai B’rith International headquarters in Washington, D.C., April 20, 2002

    “I hate white people. All of them. Every last iota of a cracker, I hate it. We didn’t come out here to play today. There’s too much serious business going on in the black community to be out here sliding through South Street with white, dirty, cracker whore bitches on our arms, and we call ourselves black men. … What the hell is wrong with you black man? You at a doomsday with a white girl on your damn arm. We keep begging white people for freedom! No wonder we not free! Your enemy cannot make you free, fool! You want freedom? You going to have to kill some crackers! You going to have to kill some of their babies!”

    — King Samir Shabazz, head of the party’s Philadelphia chapter, in a National Geographic documentary, January 2009

    Now who says the black panthers aren’t racist and are just presented as such?

  7. Best Malcolm X quote

    “:Be peaceful, be courteous, obey the law, respect everyone; but if someone puts his hand on you, send him to the cemetery.”

  8. BTW The Black Panthers are NOT racist in my opinion but are only presented as such to meet facilitate he ‘race war’ agenda.

    1. Hildegard – the day the Black Panthers allow whites into their organization is the day they are not racist.

  9. Young people do not know history, and sadly Beyonce appears to be no exception.

    Of course a police sergeant criticized a performance honoring an organization that advocated, and in some cases acted upon, violence against police.

    Someone should explain why it is racist to criticize references to the Black Panthers. They were not Ghandi. They were considered a domestic terrorist organization. They combined socialism with black nationalism, and violence was part of its foundation from its inception. If you liked watching rioters burn their own cities down “to protest racism” then you would love the Black Panthers. They were antithetical to MLK, Jr, and more form over substance, strutting around and fighting rather than actually working on the issues.

    Gee, why would a rational police officer object?

    He should lawyer up and sue them hard to teach them a lesson about the First Amendment.

  10. “…whatever tends to a discordant intermixture must have an injurious tendency.”

    Texan Polygynist

    Actually, the unconstitutional “Emancipation Proclamation” (secession did not effect war, rebellion or insurrection powers including proclamations) and the “Reconstruction Amendments” were illegal and unconstitutional immigration documents. The Founders intended that immigration be severely restricted.

    Thomas Jefferson –

    “Suppose 20 millions of republican Americans thrown all of a sudden into France, what would be the condition of that kingdom?”

    “If it would be more turbulent, less happy, less strong, we may believe that the addition of half a million of foreigners to our present numbers would produce a similar effect here.”

    Alexander Hamilton –

    He invited his fellow Americans to consider the example of another people who had been more generous with their immigration policy than prudence dictated: the American Indians.

    “Prudence requires us to trace the history further and ask what has become of the nations of savages who exercised this policy, and who now occupies the territory which they then inhabited? Perhaps a lesson is here taught which ought not to be despised.”

    Hamilton was likewise unconvinced that diversity was a strength. The safety of a republic, according to him, depended

    “essentially on the energy of a common national sentiment, on a uniformity of principles and habits, on the exemption of the citizens from foreign bias and prejudice, and on that love of country which will almost invariably be found to be closely connected with birth, education and family.”

    “The influx of foreigners must, therefore, tend to produce a heterogeneous compound; to change and corrupt the national spirit; to complicate and confound public opinion; to introduce foreign propensities. In the composition of society, the harmony of the ingredients is all-important, and whatever tends to a discordant intermixture must have an injurious tendency.”

    George Washington contended in a 1794 letter to John Adams that there was no particular need for the U.S. to encourage immigration,

    “except of useful mechanics and some particular descriptions of men or professions.”

    “The policy or advantage of its taking place in a body (I mean the settling of them in a body) may be much questioned; for by so doing, they retain the language, habits, and principles (good or bad) which they bring with them.”

  11. Darren, It is obvious that this sergeant identified himself as a DPD officer, so as in most organizations you do NOT have free speech rights when you publicly ID yourself as a member or employee of that company. When I was a captain for my airline, I knew enough to keep all my announcements professional and non political, even though I have strong opinions. I also never have identified my airline in any of my posts for the same reason nor did I ever wear any political button on my uniform. The airline would have been more than justified in firing me if I had used my position to advocate for a cause or offended my passengers. It is even more important to be seen as professional and non-partisan in a position such as policing. In a city such as Detroit which is mainly black, to post such a thing is an outrage and shows a serious lack of common sense and decency. That alone brings into question that persons ability to function as a police officer. It is not a question of superiors throwing a person under a bus, but of the posters lack of common sense and total disregard for his role as a police officer. He also showed a lack of concern for his fellow officers by this post. That should trouble his fellows as well, and it did. Which is why he retracted his post and hopefully learns from this.

  12. Here’s an excerpt from a movie that encourages raucous black behavior but demonizes white men and blacks for being “white”. Do watch the movie in full. The black guy lecturing the class is considered “too white” and needs to “loosen up” and act more black.

    Films like these are a small but glaring problem with how blacks react to whites these days.

  13. @John

    And … Lincoln now has to rest in his grave, wondering if freedom for them would have mattered. I am glad that blacks are freed but I am not glad that blacks are not increasing their knowledge, their learning, to achieve great things.

    Instead, they turn to the NBA, rap stars, and other iconic models who continue doing questionable things with zero consequences. This is part of what is happening in Detroit and their police station. “I’m black. You can’t go around criticizing anyone, who’s black, just because she’s celebrating Malcolm X and the Black Panthers! We blacks get to decide who says right or wrong when it comes to our kind. Get in line!”

    I’ve seen black people work hard, try to live life better but seriously dude… It’s really saddening to hear blacks write, “F*ck the police! Kill ’em all!” on YouTube and not even care. When I give them a maxim from Napoleon Hill and to build their desire into great things, they’re totally apathetic. They just don’t want to do “hard work” and succeed, especially those thugga types.

    The ones who do work hard… I’m sure he gets blasted from time to time from his own brothers and sisters about how “white” he is for trying to make money the legit way.

  14. Boy, this is a real dilemma. From slavery to untouchable status – “You’re flyin’ high in April, shot down in May.” Resolution seems impossible and the chasm grows ever larger. How do we consider the big picture. It’s always useful to consider history. Abraham Lincoln was conflicted over the same issue.

    To wit,

    “If all earthly power were given me,” said Lincoln in a speech delivered in Peoria, Illinois, on October 16, 1854, “I should not know what to do, as to the existing institution [of slavery]. My first impulse would be to free all the slaves, and send them to Liberia, to their own native land.” “…he asked whether freed blacks should be made “politically and socially our equals?” “My own feelings will not admit of this,” he said, “and [even] if mine would, we well know that those of the great mass of white people will not … We can not, then, make them equals.”

    To be sure, Lincoln’s compassionate repatriation would have engendered MacArthur’s declaration,

    “these proceedings are closed.”

    It appears that Lincoln took the wrong path, allowing the answer to slip through his hands.

  15. Correct me if I’m wrong but is it comparable for a police station to a military base?

    For example, there are ways you can get into the military base; other ways will result in the person being arrested, shot down, or secured by an armed cadre of MP to defuse the situation. By committing a crime on a military base, you commit actual felonies. Forget shoplifting at the nearest convenience store. Do it at the base and you’ll be found committing a felony. Why is that? It’s because the military base is also a governmental installation.

    The same can be said of police stations, which are governmental installation. What if it is considered a “felony” to speak out, or criticize others, but carry out commands from your superiors?

    TBH, I find Detroit police very disturbing. If I was the Chief, heard it from multiple officers about someone making criticism toward Beyonce and her Black Panthers performance, I’d tell the multiple officers to “shut up and get back to work, tattlers.” I do not have time, as a Police Chief, to hear complaints from other officers about a celebrity that actually performed something that was considered “anti-police” and got police organizations angry. It is not my call, nor my duty, to discipline an officer who expressed his own opinion. He has the right to the 1st Amendment so long as he doesn’t fraudulently scream “Fire!” just to cause panic and mayhem.

    Detroit Police may find themselves at the edge of a lawsuit by the officer. I hope the officer wins this lawsuit, citing violation of the 1st Amendment, the right to free speech, and keep his job altogether. No wonder why Detroit is a mostly black city and deep in debt!

  16. Ruby Ridge: the FBI requested loner/survivalist/mountain man Randy Weaver that he cut off a shot gun barrel and sell it to the undercover FBI agent. The Agent specified an exact length about 5mm below the federal minimum length barrel.

    When Weaver delivered the gun, they arrested him. The FBI alleges their sum total reason for their entrapment was to turn Weaver to spy on the local survivalist group.

    Weaver, being a man of principal, would have never spied on the group even if it cost him his life. He did not appear in court. The Weavers wrongly interpreted the arrest warrant as a symptom of Armageddon. So the Weavers armed for battle. When their armed child went down the hill, a gun went off, and heavily armed FBI agents put a bullet in the child’s head and killed him.

    Later, FBI agent Hoiuchi put hot lead in the face of Vicki Weaver while she held her baby. Horiuchi was later promoted for his incredible act of perceived FBI bravery. If he had just put hot lead in the baby maybe he’d be running the FBI now, or President.

  17. Darren is correct. Let us observe that the officers’ unions play a needed role in protecting free speech rights. Politically, the hollowing out of freedom struggles by show business is actually the germane concern of people and groups that are dedicated to human emancipation.

  18. The FBI has a long long history of infiltrating groups, inciting them to commit acts of violence and terror and then sneaking out when the arrests are made.

    Are you claiming the Black Panther murders were so “incited”?

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