I live in Wilmington, NC. Nice beaches just a few minutes’ drive away, warm weather, college town ambience in some areas. And lots and lots of racism, both overt and (barely) under the surface.
And, like so many other cities, towns and rural districts across this great country of ours (TM), our police departments and sheriff’s offices are…problematic. Some of the officers are as bluntly and callously racist as you can get. Others are good and dedicated people. I know, I’ve worked with them when I was in the educational system. This story is about both sets.
[Trigger alert: I am not going to use bleeps or asterisks to sanitize the words spoken by the racists in this story. Be warned.]
The Wilmington Police Department, which has a distinctly checkered history in race relations, has a new police chief, Donny Williams. Williams is black. That’s notable. One of Williams’s first actions as chief was to fire three particularly bestial racists on the force.
Name them and shame them: Michael “Kevin” Piner, James “Brian” Gilmore, and Jessie E. Moore II, all white, all veterans of the police force.
The firings come after a routine review of dashcam footage that accidentally recorded two phone conversations between the officers.
Williams used the “extraordinary circumstances” exclusion in North Carolina law to allow him to report the details of the firings. A lawyer for the officers attempted to prevent Williams from doing just that. In a press conference by Williams and some — not all — members of the City Council, Williams said:
Why are we releasing this information this way and at this time? Because it is the right thing to do. Normally, personnel laws allow only a very small amount of information to be made public. However, in exceptional cases, when it is essential to maintain public confidence in the administration of the City and the Police Department, more information may be released. This is the most exceptional and difficult case I have encountered in my career. We must establish new reforms for policing here at home and throughout this country.
When I first learned of these conversations, I was shocked, saddened and disgusted. There is no place for this behavior in our agency or our city and it will not be tolerated.
Mayor Bill Saffo added, “I can honestly say that I was sickened by the vile and destructive language used by these officers.”
Williams will release the video footage if he can secure the approval of a judge.
The June 4, 2020 conversations were recorded from Piner’s car. The first recording to draw the attention of the police supervisor was a conversation between Piner and Gilmore, who pulled up alongside Piner in his car.
When the conversations turned to the George Floyd protests, the talk quicly turned ugly. Piner told Gilmore that the WPD was only interested in “kneeling down with the black folks.” Gilmore replied that he had seen a YouTube video of white people bowing down on their knees and “worshipping blacks.”
Bad enough, right? It gets worse.
The three then began badmouthing some of their black colleagues. One was characterized as “bad news” and a “piece of shit.” Piner said of the black officer, “Let’s see how his boys take care of him when shit gets rough, see if they don’t put a bullet in his head.” Yes, apparently he is saying white WPD officers will execute the black officer, and, presumably, falsify the scene to suggest someone else did the murder.
The second conversation took place later in the day, with Piner and Moore on their phones. Moore had apparently worked with a female black officer in an arrest earlier in the day. He called that officer a “negro” and a “nigger.” He called a black magistrate judge a “fucking negro magistrate.” He also used an unidentified gay slur to characterize the magistrate.
Moore said of the person that he had helped arrest: “She needed a bullet in her head right then and move on. Let’s move the body out of the way and keep going.” Piner responded, “That’s what I have been trying to tell you.” Moore said, “Not all black people are like that,” and Piner retorted, “Most of ’em.”
You and I would have long ago concluded that all three of them need to be shitcanned. We would be right. But there’s more.
Piner and Moore then start discussing an upcoming “civil war” that will presumably slaughter thousands of blacks. This is an idea popularized decades ago in a book called The Turner Diaries, which called for the extermination of all minorities, liberal whites, and pretty much anyone who isn’t a raving white supremacist.
“A civil war is coming,” Piner said. He is “ready.” He says he will buy a new assault rifle soon. Piner then says that American society is just about ready for “martial law.” Then, he says the following charming bit:
We are just gonna go out and start slaughtering them fucking niggers. I can’t wait. God, I can’t wait.
Credit where a tiny scrap of credit is due: Moore said he wouldn’t do that. Piner emphasized that America needs a civil war to “wipe ’em off the fucking map. That’ll put ’em back about four or five generations.”
They also had plenty to say about the Black Lives Matter movement and Williams himself, who was interim police chief at the time of the conversations.
None of the officers denied they had said the words recorded on the dashcam. They said they were merely “venting” because of the “stress of today’s climate in law enforcement,” according to the investigation.
Piner, Moore and Gimore are fired as of yesterday, and cannot be rehired by the WPD. Their names have been provided to the North Carolina Criminal Justice Education and Training Standards Commission, with the recommendation that they never work in law enforcement again. The cases they were involved in as witnesses are being reviewed to determine if their racial bias influenced their testimonies.
Of course, they all denied they are racists. Wrong.
So, why this post? There are dozens of examples of these happening every day around the country.
Because a brand new police chief took extraordinary action to fire three grunting, vicious racists from his department on the first day he took the position.
That’s how you start. Williams sent a strong signal to the rest of the racists that infest his department that their bullshit will no longer be tolerated.