Delaware

Resign

I said on Friday that Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf should resign his post in the leadership after a quote he gave the News Journal during an interview conducted on or about June 3 that appeared to give a veto to the police over any policing reforms that may be proposed following the George Floyd protests that continue across the nation. Later on Friday, to be fair, I published some of the pushback I had received concerning the Speaker’s track record in supporting other criminal justice reforms, his speech at the Wednesday Racial Justice Rally in Dover, and concerning the context surrounding the quote.

This morning, Sarah Gamard of the News Journal published another piece concerning the same interview, containing even more problematic quotes from the Speaker, which I will include below. Needless to say, these new quotes reveal a man who is just out of his time, and he is not the right leader of the Democratic Party in the General Assembly for this moment.

He should resign as Speaker.

Schwartzkopf continued to say that he recently had a conversation with a Black member of the General Assembly who explained some experiences she had, including being denied a job because of her race.

Schwartzkopf told her, “I can’t understand what you went through. But I can tell you that I’ve experienced some of the same things myself.” He explained that when he worked for the state police, he was denied a promotion despite doing well on his evaluations.

“They bypassed me twice to promote a person of color,” he said. “So I do understand that side of it. … I know how I felt. I worked hard for the promotion. I ultimately got the promotion eventually. But I also, when I got done feeling sorry for myself and feeling bad and thinking I was treated unfairly, I also understood. Because we didn’t have sergeants of color, we didn’t have a lieutenant of color in Sussex County. The hardest thing to work on and to make decisions on is when you see and understand both sides of the problem.

“And in this particular case, I have a lot that I can share with our caucus mates from the Wilmington area, those of color, because I have experienced some of it. I came from a very, very poor background. A lot of them did, too. And while I didn’t experience some of the cultural things, I did experience some of the socioeconomic problems that they’ve had along the way.”

I think the Speaker honestly needs a lesson on his white privilege. He may have been poor in his childhood, and he may have had to see people of color promoted over him before he eventually succeeded, but he ignores the huge impact of white privilege has had on his life. He has not ever been discriminated against based solely on the color of his skin, no matter if his promotion was delayed not to his liking. Does he know how out of touch and tone deaf he sounds there in making that complaint? And even if he honestly feels aggrieved over that, does he really think that a privileged and powerful white guy should be right now telling African Americans basically “hey, stop your bitching, I had tough times too.” Really?

Pete, you need to stop giving interviews.

Later in the interview, when discussing the recent protests in Delaware against racism and police brutality, the speaker said activists who decide to peacefully protest should be “held accountable if something bad happens” because protests could turn violent. 

Citing an online video that showed such an incident, the speaker said that outside groups are driving crime after protests by slipping people “a few dollars” to be violent.

“Somebody (is) manipulating their anger, pointing them in the right direction, ‘Go smash that glass, that’ll get their attention. Here’s 10 bucks, go hit that door,’” Schwartzkopf said. “If they go do something stupid, two or three of their friends are going to go with them, and then two or three of their friends are going to go with them, and then you end up with a mob mentality. And that’s what’s been going on.”

The Speaker needs to stop watching Fox News. This little anecdote totally reveals he is a viewer. He sounds like President Trump here blaming the peaceful protesters for the violence that was committed by other groups on one weekend.

He then warned that civilians will struggle in their renewed effort to police the police. “As a cop, we don’t go in to tell somebody how to operate on somebody because we don’t know anything about it,” Schwartzkopf said. “It’s very difficult to ask people that don’t know anything about policing, who’ve never been a cop, how they should fix policing. They can tell them their side of how they feel on the other side of the policing, which is very important.”

This quote shows that my interpretation of his original quote on Friday was correct. He doesn’t think anyone but police should police the police. He is giving a veto to the police over any policing reforms. I am a citizen. I elect Senators and Representatives to represent me in Dover and Washington. I fully expect them to pass laws and regulations that govern a whole variety of occupations and services, from hospitals and doctors to industry to the rules of engagement for the police. It most certainly is the business of the General Assembly, whether or not the individual members are police officers, to police the police. Sure, the police may give input into the formation of new regulations and policies, but they do not get a veto. They do not get the final word.

The Speaker made a nod to this notion later in the interview:

When asked what responsibility the General Assembly has in addressing issues in police departments, Schwartzkopf said police departments should act on their own to root out bad officers, and legislation will probably also be necessary if departments resist. He said lawmakers will do “whatever legislation we have to” in order to “try to make things better.” 

We have now seen three weeks of the police responding to protests against police brutality with more police brutality. The police are resisting any change, and any protest of their actions. They quite frankly cannot be trusted in any way to police themselves. All trust between the police and the citizenry has been lost and it will not be regained any time soon. It will not be regained by letting the police carry on as usual with only cosmetic changes.

“We can fix all the laws in the world, and we’re not going to fix this,” Schwartzkopf said. “We need to have a cultural shift and a mentality shift as well as just a human nature shift. I mean, it’s time for the people of color to quit feeling like they’re less of a person than we are.”

Sweet Jesus. What the fuck. The onus and burden is not on African Americans to quit feeling like they are less of a person than a white guy. To change his quote “It’s time for white people to quit treating African Americans as if they are less of a person than we are.” This crisis has not been caused by black people feeling insecure about themselves as compared to whites. It has been caused by white supremacy.

The Speaker doesn’t get that. Therefore, he must resign.

Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

12 comments on “Resign

  1. Holy shit. He basically said he’s a victim of “reverse racism”

  2. He needs to go, but people like him rarely, if ever, resign or even admit there is a problem. Term limits would be nice right about now.

  3. Jason330

    White men like me are the real victims of racism, (if you ignore the fact that I did get the job, and I’m now the speaker). Still, what about me?!?! Waah!

    • mediawatch

      Damn, he’s saying, if I hadn’t been passed over twice for those black guys, I might have become superintendent of the state police, and may secretary of public safety after that. And then I wouldn’t have felt it necessary to pad my income by running for the General Assembly. So this is my payback for being held back.

  4. OMG. So he understands racism because he was a victim of reverse discrimination when POC were unfairly promoted ahead of him? And there are people being paid to smash windows at the protests? And it’s the fault of peaceful protesters if some people get violent? And only cops can reform the police because no one else is qualified to judge them? And law enforcement should have veto power over reforms? And it’s time for people of color to stop thinking they are lesser people? And we can’t reform the police because we can’t reform human nature? Could he be anymore of a tone-deaf idiot? Wow.

  5. A Wilmingtonian

    Speaker Pete is telling us all that he plans to lead with his white privilege. Which means that any serious dismantling of the structural injustices in the system are not going to get done. And you can look to the Task Force examining options to reform the police and the proposed statewide oversight board that will include ex-police as pre-packaged Delaware Way that will mean that key reforms — the kind of thing that will require the police to change how they operate — just won’t happen.

    And this from the Speaker:
    “He said “community reform” and “cultural reform” will also be necessary.”

    Translation — we will spend some time in this effort blaming black and brown people for their mistreatment at the hands of the police.

  6. mediawatch

    If Mike Purzycki, of all people, can knock that beloved patriot Caesar Rodney off his high horse in the name of systemic racism, surely there’s someone in the General Assembly with the brass to take down Pete Schwartzkopf, a mere bit player in the state’s dark history.
    Hey, John Carney, where are you? Perhaps you could tell Pete that he’s shaming the entire Delaware Democratic Party, and maybe it’s time for you to stroll off into the sunset along the Delaware Bay.

  7. Stan Merriman

    I’ve observed as a relative newcomer here from a very Blue city in a hyper-Red state that Delaware Democrats exhibit a benign form of racism, if there is such a thing. “Oh, you live in the city?”, “It’s Newaaark, not Newark”, “I live in NORTH Wilmington”, Or, “we sure don’t want those in the city handling paper ballots”. Or, “we need to clean up the corruption in the city”, when self dealing by white leadership across the state is evident to sharp observers. And few Statewide black leaders, with one just mimicking white Delaware corruption IMO, hounded away. And 19 school districts and a state still trying to figure out Brown v. Board of Education integration and equitable funding 66 years later? Give me a break. It is time for some Dem self-reflection on our liberal apartheid and for new Assembly leadership to work on this and become a genuinely Blue state. Yes, I’m used to pissing people off.

  8. DiverDan

    Schwarzkopf has been the worst thing to happen to Democratic politics in Delaware since Thurman Adams, and that’s saying something, brother. Total obstructionist and anti-open government bully.

  9. A Wilmingtonian

    One big thing missing in this drive for much needed reform is Harris McDowell’s massive revision of the criminal code that works to expunge wholesale much of the systemic thumb on the sale criminal BS people face in the system. That holistic approach (written by a committee!) was tossed over for specific, targeted bills championed by legislators. I think you can see what happened to Harris’ (and Leo Strine’s bill) as what will happen for this Task Force.

  10. John Kowalko

    Press Advisory:
    For immediate release
    Thursday 6/18/20
    Contact John Kowalko
    25th District Representative
    302 737 2396
    302 547 9351

    State Lawmakers Release Open Letter of Support and Commitment to Delaware’s Black Community and the Black Legislative Caucus.
    Nine members of the Delaware State Legislature have released a letter denouncing systemic racism and pledging full commitment for all legislative reforms necessary to secure equal justice and equal treatment for Delaware’s black community. The reality of black disenfranchisement and systemic racism in our society today demands that legislators acknowledge their past failures and face their responsibilities to repair the damage.
    Representative Kowalko said, “To begin healing the wounds suffered by black people we must first acknowledge and accept our responsibilities in inflicting those wounds, whether by our actions or through a complicity of silence”.
    State Representative Ray Seigfried added that “Meaningful change will require a deeper commitment from all of us. As I confront this situation head-on, I realize that this is more than just banning chokeholds or kneeholds. It’s also about civil rights, public trust, community policing, national standards, transparency, and accountability. It’s about Federal, State, and local legislative changes that together will create new behaviors from law enforcement, institutions, and agencies to protect every citizen equally”
    In addition Representative Paul Baumbach notes that “There is no excuse that parents of Black children must still have ‘the Talk,’ due to the persistent gulf between policing of White and Black America. The murder of George Floyd has led to the raising of voices across our state and country, demanding change. We must act, now.”
    “Delaware’s white State Legislators comprise more than 85% of the total body and that significant imbalance makes it obvious with whom the responsibility for change rests” concluded Representative Kowalko.

    • John Kowalko

      here’s the letter
      We, the undersigned, submit this open letter as elected Delaware legislators who have been appalled by police actions of the last few weeks. We have been equally appalled by the attempt to shift focus to “looters”, seemingly to distract attention from the cry of racism and black disenfranchisement.
      The recent events surrounding and following the brutal public murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis by four members of that city’s police force have once more brought into focus a certain unforgiveable inhumanity that exists. It’s time for political leaders who are not persons of color to stop simply saying “we understand, we feel your pain, we feel your frustration”, and all the other clichés that we so often use to suggest empathy and sympathy. We are privileged but privilege comes at the expense of those who are deprived. Privilege also carries a responsibility and we must make changes, dramatic changes, life altering changes and we must make them today.
      As legislators who are not persons of color we have a duty to our constituents, our children, and our fellow legislators who are persons of color to not only speak out but to take action. We must show our commitment to ending racism and economic injustice. We can and must do more. We have a duty to be the leaders that our constituents elected us to be. We must address racial disparities. We must be brave enough to put our voices forth and commit to change. We are going to be the change that we need to be.
      We have always been stunned by the suggestion that it is the fault of the underdog that they do not do enough to help themselves or make changes. It is NEVER the responsibility of the oppressed to be the catalyst. It is the duty of the suppressor to change, and for elected leaders to ensure that these changes occur.
      Legislators can and must make critical changes in law to reverse cultural discrimination and economic disenfranchisement.
      We will be working with our colleagues to propose a Bill of Rights, encompassing legislation and policies which will help ensure basic economic and social fairness. Following is a list of some of those proposals but note that the list is not all-encompassing.
      • Total commitment to the “Justice For All Agenda” announced by Delaware’s Black Legislative Caucus at their 6/10/20 press conference
      • Revisit and reform the Police Officers’ bill of rights to allow more transparency and oversight that is inadequate in the current version.
      • Amend criminal statutes governing excessive uses of force to hold police officers accountable for reckless behavior
      • Reviewing Training and Education of Officers. Training academies for all law enforcement must review current use of force training standards for law enforcement and develop model training standards to ensure that all officers receive the best instruction in their interactions with the public.
      • Create mental health initiatives and offering targeted mental health supports for officers to deal with trauma and reduce stigma for getting help.
      • Strengthening of rules for police to live by regarding interactions with minority community members, training for police, and swift punishment when they do not abide by civil obedience laws
      • Encourage and assist municipalities and Counties in the creation of local citizen advisory boards.
      • Help hotlines and follow up for minorities and families who have been misserved
      • Creation of a Delaware State Law Enforcement Advisory Commission that reviews allegations of misconduct by law enforcement personnel
      • $15/hour minimum wage
      • Equal access to health care

      Representative Paul Baumbach
      Representative David Bentz
      Representative Gerald Brady
      Representative Earl Jaques
      Representative John Kowalko
      Senator Harris McDowell
      Representative Ray Seigfried
      Senator Dave Sokola
      Representative John Viola

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