As a Cleveland police commander, William Tell saw a lot.
But there’s something he never saw in his 31 years on the force.
“I never came to work one day where I knew a police officer, white or black, who came to work and said, I’m going to kill me somebody black today,” Tell said.
What he has seen time and time again is the discord between blacks in the city and the largely white police force assigned to protect and serve them.
“I could see why they’d feel that way because there’s always a rush to judgment,” he said
That tension has created a stigma, an us vs. them mentality, fueled in recent years with deaths and perceived injustice:
- The shooting of Tamir Rice, an unarmed black 12-year-old by a nervous, quick-to-draw white cop.
- The shooting deaths of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams, both unarmed, yet killed in a storm of 137 shots fired by mostly white officers.
- The suffocation death of Tanisha Anderson, a mentally ill woman
- The millions of dollars of settlement money paid by the city to black families harmed by police.
To many in the black community, the deaths were unwarranted, and came without ramifications let alone justice. The officers were all exonerated, cleared of any wrongdoing.
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