RIVERSIDE — Some law enforcement officials across the nation, including Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco, are taking a knee alongside demonstrators as they protest the brutal death of a black man at the hands of a white police officer.
The controversial move comes amidst the most widespread civil unrest to upend the nation in decades. Taking a knee embraces an anti-racism gesture President Donald Trump has denounced.
Bianco and his deputies were among those taking a knee in support of an estimated 5,000 protesters who marched through downtown Riverside on Monday, June 1 at the intersection of Orange and 10th streets.
The criticism among some in the law enforcement community was swift, even from those who supported him in the November 2018 election. Some referred to it as nothing more than a “stunt.”
Timothy P. Rushing, retired from the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, said he voted for Bianco. Rushing has since moved to San Bernardino County.
“I believe Sheriff Bianco has shown a lot of leadership capabilities in the short time he has been in office,” Rushing told Uken Report. “His stand on not allowing his department to be utilized as the enforcement mechanism to cite citizens found in violation of COVID restrictions was spot on. He banked a lot of political capital both with his constituency as well as the deputies he oversees, particularly because it spared many of them from having to enforce rules many of them sincerely felt were in conflict with the constitution they swore to protect.”
However, Rushing said Bianco’s taking a knee with demonstrators missed the mark.
“Having successfully worked many demonstrations myself, often times as a supervisor to the line deputies I supervised (OCSD not RSD), our goal was to maintain a neutral stance and do our best to protect the safety and rights of all involved,” Rushing said. “In this incident, I believe everyone would have been better served by maintaining that professional image of dispassionate neutrality.”
Mike Richards, a former Sergeant at Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Office, said in a Facebook post of Bianco’s move, “That is just stupid.”
Christopher Armstrong, a former police detective at San Diego Police Department, referred to Bianco and his team as “Social workers, no longer cops.”
Tony Aleria, a former Motor Officer at California Highway Patrol, said, “He’s a good sheriff and I have a lot of respect for him — but not for this move. Appeasement … First, it’s one knee, then both, then lie down. You can extend your hand, but never take a knee unless in prayer.”
Michael Puccinelli, who worked for the city and county of San Francisco, said, “That’s not the way I was taught how to work crowd control.”
In Des Moines, Iowa, police chief Dana Wingert took a knee before a crowd of demonstrators along with other officers and explained it this way: “Us joining them in a symbolic way, that’s the least we can do.”
Anti-racism demonstrators across the country have embraced the gesture made famous by former quarterback Colin Kaepernick who began kneeling during pre-game renditions of the national anthem in 2016, to protest police brutality against blacks and other minorities.
Leading politicians have adopted the gesture, from Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden to the mayor of Los Angeles Eric Garcetti, who dropped to a knee along with a line of officers as they mingled with demonstrators near city hall on Tuesday.
Bianco declined Uken Report’s dual requests for comment. Instead, his media spokesperson referred to an interview the Sheriff did with Good Day LA on Tuesday, June 2 in which he gave his response to taking a knee at the Riverside protest. You may watch it here.
Bianco told FOX 11, “This is a huge divide, and the leaders of this have to work with us to make a difference. And, if this is what starts it, then this is what starts it.”
When asked if he was working with them right now by taking the knee, he said, “100 percent. 100 percent.”
- Sheriff Chad Bianco: FOX 11 / foxla.com (Used with permission)