After Shootings, Black Officers in Tough Position

As protests continue in Missouri
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 25, 2014 1:34 PM CST
After Shootings, Black Officers in Tough Position
St. Louis Police officers guard the entrance to the Cathedral Basilica before Midnight Mass as protesters held a candlelight vigil on Wednesday, Dec. 24, 2014, in St. Louis.   (AP Photo/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Robert Cohen)

With the protests over the unarmed black men who have recently died at the hands of white police officers, black police officers across the country find themselves in an awkward position, the New York Times reports. "With us being black officers, we get a double punishment because we feel the brunt of what happens to a police officer," says Dennis Shireff, a police veteran of almost 30 years who works outside St. Louis. "At the same time, it’s equally hard for us when we see a young African-American is killed at the hands of a policeman." Other officers the Times spoke to expressed similar sentiments, noting that they often find themselves having to defend police procedures to other blacks while also explaining to their colleagues why many blacks are unhappy with the police. And, some note, that hostility is making it harder to recruit more black officers.

Meanwhile, in Missouri, protests continue over the shooting death Tuesday of Antonio Martin, whom police say was armed. Crowds gathered yesterday in Berkeley, Mo., with some remaining peaceful and others allegedly throwing fireworks and rocks, Mashable reports; shots were reported fired at one point in the area. After a prayer vigil at the gas station where Martin was killed, protesters shut down a highway nearby and were eventually dispersed by police with pepper spray. And police in riot gear met protesters at a second vigil for Martin at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis. Six to eight people were reportedly arrested throughout the night, the AP reports. Click for more on the four recent police shootings of black men in and around St. Louis. (More police shooting stories.)

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