*On Thursday, Electronic Urban Report/EUR publisher Lee Bailey spoke in an exclusive interview with Carl Pittman, a criminal investigator for the Harris County, Texas Sheriff’s Office and member of Project 21, an organization described as the National Leadership Network of Black Conservatives.
Pittman’s interview was timely, as he was a colleague to and admirer of fallen Harris County Deputy, Darren Goforth, the Caucasian officer who was gunned down and allegedly killed execution-style by 30-year-old Shannon J. Miles on Friday, August 28, as he fueled his patrol car at a Houston gas station.
Pittman’s response to his colleagues death was crafted in an editorial and published on Amy Ridenour’s National Center Blog. In the response, Pittman – who’s also running for Harris County Sheriff, and was once disciplined for domestic abuse – speaks on the shooting and the environment that he feels may have led to it. In the editorial he speaks admirably about Deputy GoForth and his ideals. But says police officers have been made out to be “ uncaring, calculating killers of minorities – especially blacks,” and speaks with disdain about those who want to name streets after and march in the name of people who have done nothing but act badly.
This can only refer to the recent decision by the city of Prairie View in Texas, who voted to rename the street where the late Sandra Bland was stopped on by police for not using her turning signal, in her honor. And the Black Lives Matter movement, which Pittman also calls out as… rhetoric …that is …”very incomplete – and, yes, very racist.”
And says, “I am greatly offended!”
With this exclusive interview, Bailey wanted to provide Pittman with a platform where he could elaborate on his editorial, and his perspective on the relationship of the public towards law enforcement.
Lee Bailey: What was your reaction to his death?
Carl Pittman: Well, you know it’s always a sad thing to lose someone, especially someone that you know. And in this case it seemed to be such a senseless killing. The way this thing was carried out…It just shocked the conscience of everyone the way this man…He had no chance. He was executed. It’s a sad thing.
Bailey: What does that tell you about the man who was accused of the killing?
Pittman: It doesn’t really tell me a bunch. Obviously, there was something either in his mind, in his heart, that we all wish hadn’t been there. But we’ll have to wait and see how that all plays out…Hopefully we will find out what the motive was in him doing this.
Bailey: Well it seems like the motive according to the Sheriff is that he was inspired, influenced by the Black Lives Matter movement.
Pittman: Well sir, that’s something you would need to take up with the interim sheriff. But as far as I know, I don’t know if there has been a direct connection to that. However, it is possible it could’ve played some part.
Bailey: Well, that’s a little interesting because in your editorial it seems that you connected the shooting to Black Lives Matter.
Pittman: Oh no, the reason that was spoken of in my piece is because that is such a prevailing situation going on in society right now that there has been this wide blanket cast over law enforcement as being some evil force that just doesn’t care about people. And quite frankly I find it very offensive because I know the lion’s share of police officers are out doing a good job and it is in their heart to serve the community. Sure there are some bad apples, but there’s bad apples in every profession. So please don’t take from my piece that I’m attaching that movement to the death of our deputy because I don’t think anyone has factually made that connection.
Mr. Bailey does a sly chuckle, He is not satisfied with Pittman’s response and tells him he feels that what sounds like an opposition to Black Lives Matter movement is the overriding theme of his editorial. Mr. Pittman responds to Bailey’s so-called assumption saying, “People will read things and come away with their own impression.”
Bailey pushes on. What is your perspective of the Black Lives Matter movement?
Pittman stumbles…Well again, my perspective is I think everybody’s life matters. You can ask the family of anyone, black, white, brown or whatever else. Their lives all matter. Now there are surely instances in this country that happened that involved police officers and black Americans that should raise questions and if there’s an incident where a police officer has acted outside of his authority or law, they should be prosecuted just like anybody else. But I’m not going to fall in line and say that a black life is more important than anyone else’s life. I think God sees us all as His people, as His children. And I just can’t subscribe to that.
SIDEBAR: It’s interesting that Pittman’s comments have now shifted the Black Lives Matter message to the perspective of black lives are “more valuable” than other lives as opposed to the real message, that black lives are “equally as valuable” as other lives. Yet, at the disparate rate of killings and abuse taking place, black lives are obviously not valued at all. Which is what made the movement necessary in the first place.
This is a point that was not lost on Lee Bailey.
Bailey: OK, so to clarify. It sounds like your thinking is that the Black Lives Matter movement is saying that black lives are more important than others?
Pittman: That is how I, that is how it is perceived, how I perceive it. And I think that they really should say [is]…Black Lives Matter, Too. Black Lives Matter, Also. But when you just say Black Lives Matter it leaves it open for a lot of discussion…and people to start speculating on exactly what they’re saying.
Bailey asks if Pittman thinks something as simple as altering the movement’s slogan to read Black Lives Matter, Too or Black Lives Matter, Also would make a difference.
Again with the stammer, Pittman responds, “I think it might, and it would make a big difference.”
Major pause here.
Bailey: OK. I guess the obvious question is why? I mean it’s hard for me and a lot of people to understand that it’s saying Black Lives Matter doesn’t mean that other lives don’t matter. It’s just saying Black Lives Matter.
SIDEBAR: Pittman’s next comment implies that the Black Lives Matter movement should be inclusive of more than just black folk. In essence, the movement would be more acceptable, if it spoke on the value of all races. In this way of thinking, it appears the entire reason for and purpose of, the movement has escaped this gentleman.
Pittman: I think that saying that by itself, you’re leaving a lot of other information out. I think that by just making that statement you are inferring that maybe other lives don’t matter as much. And again, these things are all about perception.
Bailey considers what he says, and likens his ‘perception’ remark to an earlier statement that Pittman made about a negative blanket being cast over all officers; making them appear evil. Bailey states that this too, can be recognized as someone’s perception.
At this point the two men talk over each other. Soon, Pittman brings up a Black Lives Matter march that he says took place in Northern California, where a group of people “carrying large banners saying, ‘Police in a blanket, fry ‘em like bacon’. Now that’s very offensive to me. And when the leader of that particular Black Lives Matter group was confronted about his statement he tried to say, ‘We were just kidding. We were just playing. Well this is not a kidding or playing environment we kind ourselves in. It’s quite serious. And so, I don’t think we ought to play that way.”
Bailey admits he is not aware of that particular incident, but says, “It sounds like one incident and it’s “Not a good look. I’ll give you that. It sounds like a stupid move on somebody’s part.”
Pittman: Well you know Mr. Bailey, I subscribe to a very simple thinking. Something my mother instilled in me many years ago. I grew up in Houston, and my mother would tell us all the time: ‘what’s right is right. What’s wrong is wrong. And it doesn’t matter who’s doing it. So I don’t give one race or another a leg-up to do wrong. If you’re wrong, you’re wrong. I don’t care what color you are. You’re wrong!
Bailey: I would agree with that. Let me close out. You did criticize the White House. President Obama and the ‘race-baiting Rev. Al Sharpton’. You said they have ‘blood on their hands.’
Pittman: Yes. I surely wrote that.
Bailey: OK. That’s a little strong, to put it mildly.
Pittman: Well, I think someone being executed is pretty strong. I think a lot of things that are happening in this country is…(He is interrupted by Bailey)…
Bailey: Wait. How do you make the connection?
Pittman: I make the connection this way. When we have any incident in the country, particularly with the president that involves, if the police are involved in an incident in some of these high profile matters I’m sure you’re aware of; whether it’s in Ferguson or whether it’s the one in New York; the president is in a huge rush to send in the DOJ to go investigate. And I’m OK with that. I’m find with sending it, but be consistent in your response. Whether the perceived victim is black, white, brown or anything other. But in other matters we’ve seen I didn’t see the president sending in officials to help investigate the execution of this police officer. And again, it took him three days to even reach out to this man’s widow. And so yeah, I think there’s a problem because if you’re going to be a leader, you need to be consistent in your leadership. Bailey interjects…
Bailey: Did your office ask for the president to send in an investigator? Why would that even be necessary, it’s like apples and oranges.
Pittman: And to my knowledge the local officials in Ferguson did not ask for the president to send in the DOJ.
SIDEBAR: This is not to minimize the deputy’s killing, but is it possible that, if the president did immediately send in the DOJ, it is because he recognized the issue in Ferguson as a “State of Emergency” situation?
Bailey: But there wasn’t any rioting. [With Ferguson] we are talking civil unrest.
Pittman: Yes, but it’s one thing to send in additional reinforcements to deal with rioting, but that’s not the investigators sent by the DOJ. That’s a completely different thing. Now that is ‘apples and oranges’.
Bailey: But my point is, why would the DOJ initially be concerned with this?
Pittman: Because you had the execution of a police officer. There is a very fine line that keeps chaos and what we have come to know as normal or some sort of peaceful society; and that line gets protected and kept in place with law enforcement in this country. And that is why I would think the president would want this to be absolutely investigated and found with any help and assets the federal government can lend. You need to be consistent in your leadership. .
Bailey: OK. Is there anything else you want to add that I didn’t ask?
Pittman: No sir.
Bailey: Thank you for your time.