LETTER: Put on a mask or take off the badge


The IDS published a story Sunday regarding the Bloomington Police Department not wearing face masks when dealing with the public as is mandated for employees and residents of the city of Bloomington by local and state officials. 

There has been mass criticism of people in our community, such as the homeless, when they do not wear masks. Meanwhile, the police, who interact and deal with some of the most vulnerable members of this city, do not feel the need to wear protective gear during this pandemic. 

BPD released the following statement Tuesday:

“Officers’ primary responsibility as a police agency is to protect the citizens of the community and officers cannot prolong their response to emergent calls for help for the purpose of putting a mask on.” 

This thinking indicates they believe they can operate with impunity and that their lives and comfort mean more than those they protect and serve. It takes no more than three seconds to put on a mask.

During Wednesday night’s Public Safety Committee meeting, Chief Michael Diekhoff said he does not believe BPD officers have racist thoughts or participate in racist activities. I would like to point out that the question was in regards to systemic racism in policing, and did not accuse any officer or officers. Diekhoffs’ response was not just a denial of what remains an issue here in America but a statement of marginalization, trivialization and utter disregard for what concerns the citizens he is supposed to protect and serve. 

The Bloomington Homeless Coalition and the Poor People’s Campaign believe these issues highlight the law enforcement attitude of selectively protecting and serving, disregarding the concerns and beliefs of minorities or the disadvantaged and demonstrating selective enforcement and adherence to the laws of the communities they serve. 

We won’t be silent anymore, so come speak truth to power. Meet with the Bloomington Homeless Coalition at Arby’s on Walnut Street from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Saturday for a trash clean-up. Afterwards, come to People’s Park to chalk your own response to BPD’s behavior. 

Trevor Richardson

Bloomington Homeless Coalition

Bloomington Poor People’s Campaign

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