City Councilman Chad West accepted the resignation of his appointee to the City of Dallas Community Police Oversight Board this week after she stated in a meeting that “all lives matter.”
Janice Coffee’s participation was minimal during a four-and-a-half hour meeting on June 9, the first time the committee had met since widespread protesting of police violence following the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor at the hands of police.
During a lull in the meeting, while they were waiting for Dallas Police Chief Renee Hall to join the virtual meeting, chairman Jesuorobo Enobakhare Jr. asked if members would like to comment on the death of George Floyd or anything that’s happened since then.
He started with a heartfelt speech about his disgust with what happened on the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge during a protest on June 1, when police kettled peaceful protesters, including families with children.
“You have parents that want their children to see and experience fighting for rights that are God-given. Equity. The freedom to be able to walk around and not feel that you will be arrested or experience police brutality going to the movies, walking around the mall, going to Starbucks,” he said.
Then he turned to District 1 appointee Janice Coffee.
“Are we voting on something?” she asked.
Enobakhare reiterated that he was just asking for discussion on racism and policing.
“I believe that all lives matter,” Coffee said. “And that all people should have the ability to go wherever they want, whether it’s coffee shops, Starbucks, grocery stores, whatever, in safety, and not be concerned about somebody coming up behind them or challenging them.”
Anything else? Enobakhare asked.
“Not at this time,” Coffee said.
You can watch the exchange at about the 3-hour 30-minute mark in the video below.
Coffee’s other major contribution to the meeting was to say, during a discussion of how often the committee should meet, that she didn’t want to meet too frequently because “we have other committees that we’re on.”
The phrase “all lives matter” is co-opted from the human-rights movement Black Lives Matter, and it’s problematic because it wants to negate the meaning behind that movement.
From the New York Times in 2016: “Saying ‘All Lives Matter’ in response would suggest to them that all people are in equal danger, invalidating the specific concerns of black people.”
“The entire point of Black Lives Matter is to illustrate the extent to which black lives have not mattered in this country,” Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, an assistant professor of African-American Studies at Princeton University, says in that same article.
Councilman West announced less than 24 hours later that Coffee had resigned. Now he is in search of another resident of District 1 to serve on the committee.