Nakia Jones, a black female police officer with the Warrensville Heights Police Department in Ohio, wants the world to know that she is outraged by the conduct of her fellow officers who killed Alton Sterling in Louisiana.
"If you are white and you work in a black community and you are racist, you need to be ashamed of yourself," Jones said, in a powerful message addressing other police officers that has gone viral. "You stood up there and took an oath. ... How dare you stand next to me in the same uniform and murder somebody? How dare you? You ought to be ashamed of yourself."
Jones says she became a police officer in East Cleveland in 1996 to make a difference to the black community in the difficult neighborhood she called home. She wears the uniform proudly, she said, even though it might mean that she doesn’t always come home to her husband and six children.
That’s why watching the video of Sterling’s death hurts her so much, she said: "It bothers me when I hear people say, ‘Y’all police officers this, y’all police officers that,’ and they put us in this negative category. When I’m saying to myself, I’m not that type of police officer. I know officers that are like me that would give their life for other people."
"It tore me up because I got to see what you all see," Jones continued. "If I wasn’t a police officer, and I wasn’t on the inside, I would be saying, ‘Look at this racist stuff. Look at this.’ And it hurt me."
Jones also despaired that so many of the people she has arrested during her time on the force were "the same color as me," she said. "Why would you want to destroy your community?"
After police shootings, some critics invoke the idea of black-on-black crime to argue that the violence of police shootings pale in comparison to the violence in some black communities, and that police have a right to protect themselves from that potential violence.
But while Jones is upset at the crime in her community, she said she places far more blame on the people who actually took the oath to "serve and protect" and then failed to deliver on that promise. She also urged her fellow black Americans to "be smart," stand together as a community, and "speak up" about police misconduct.