Bud Kennedy

Viral video is an ugly moment, but remember officers’ sacrifice

Fort Worth police chief responds to Jacqueline Craig arrest video

Chief Joel Fitzgerald promises a thorough investigation, saying that "the officer was rude" and "I can't call it racism"
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Chief Joel Fitzgerald promises a thorough investigation, saying that "the officer was rude" and "I can't call it racism"

Not everybody is home for Christmas.

Police and firefighters are working. Their families are spending Christmas alone so they can protect ours.

You’ll see them. They’ll be patrolling for burglars or responding if Christmas lights smoulder. And like any other weekend, they’ll be there if we have a car crash or home mishap.

It’s that way every Christmas. We celebrate. Heroic public servants sacrifice their holiday to keep our Christmas merry.

That’s why what happened last week on Rock Garden Trail in far southwest Fort Worth is even more disapppointing.

Police devote their lives and careers to protecting our homes, families and children.

Protection is exactly what one Fort Worth mother needed Wednesday when she phoned police for help.

We don’t know yet exactly how the incident started. But we know that Jackie Craig called police because a man down the street touched or grabbed her 7-year-old son to make him pick up a tossed piece of paper.

Cellphone video shows a situation escalating and raises questions about the interaction with Fort Worth Police.

Somehow, what easily could have been a minor misdemeanor assault complaint instead wound up with Craig and two daughters getting a snotty lecture about parenting from an arrogant white male officer.

When they objected, he drew a Taser, handcuffed them for resisting and threw them in jail.

I can’t imagine any Fort Worth parent of any race being satisfied with that police response to an upset mother’s call.

The video appears to show not only racial injustice but also gender disparity. The white male neighbor was treated respectfully, but the protective African-American woman was handled like an offender instead of the complainant.

At a news conference Friday, Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald described the officer as “rude.”

the worst piece of police work I have ever seen.

Public Safety Chief Cedric Armstrong of DeKalb County, Ga., on CNN

“There’s a difference between rude and racism,” he said.

Police experts used other words.

“Some of the things that officer says are asinine,” said labor official Jeff Roorda of the St. Louis Police Officers Association, author of The War on Police, in a CNN interview.

Public Safety Chief Cedric Armstrong of DeKalb County, Ga., about the same size as Fort Worth, called it “the worst piece of police work I have ever seen in my life.”

I was outraged. … Instead of actually trying to calm the situation, this police officer engaged in behavior that was not in line with the standard.

State Rep. Nicole Coller, D-Fort Worth

These are police leaders. They’re embarrassed.

City Councilwoman Kelly Allen Gray, married to an officer, spoke at the news conference to remind everyone about the original purpose of the call: to protect a precious 7-year-old.

“We have talked a lot about the officer,” she said: “The original call is being investigated too. … That is a huge point of concern.”

May all our children and our police be safe this Christmas.

Members and supporters of the black community gathered at the Tarrant County Courthouse to protest the arrest of a mother and her teenage daughters

Bud Kennedy: 817-390-7538, bud@star-telegram.com, @BudKennedy. His column appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

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