Fresno Police Chief says Civil Rights Activist is "Brainwashing" Youth

Freedom School Rev. Floyd Harris Jr.

The Chief of the Fresno Police Department, Jerry Dyer, recently joined The Christopher Gabriel Program, a conservative talk radio show to discuss the relationship between police and communities of color.  In the program, he says Rev. Floyd Harris Jr. of the New Light for New Life Church of God, and the Freedom School, is brainwashing youth to be against police, and it’s responsible for negative encounters between black youth and police officers.

Gabriel: Do you believe that there are too many voices that are standing in the way of reason and hope for communities to indeed have great respect for police again, and for police to have an understanding how to be sensitive in dealing with certain communities, do you think there are too many voices that are standing in the way of that?

Dyer: There are people out there with hidden motives, certain activists that are trying to drive a further divide between police and communities of color, and I think we have to be careful and exercise a great deal of discernment in terms of who we listen to, and uh, in those communities. And that’s what’s really important on the national front. I’ve been in this department for 36 years, I have a feel for who these community members are, and had an opportunity to work with them for many many years the last 14 years as the chief. And so, I do believe there are certain people that hinder our ability to make progress. There’s others out there that work diligently in our neighborhoods to try to improve relationships of trust.

Gabriel: I will be the one to raise the name of one of those voices. I’ve mentioned his name a couple of times the last week or so. A name of someone in this town, a man of faith, I believe, maybe, he believes he’s doing the right thing, but as far as I’m concerned is going about it all the wrong way and is doing nothing but causing greater obstacles, not only for the police, but for the people he is shepherding.

I have hit very hard, on what was, 70 or so community members, activists, who gathered this past saturday at the New Light for New Life Church of God, probably not far from where you were yesterday. And I’ve never met the Reverend Floyd Harris Jr., who is their pastor there. I’ve invited him on the program, multiple, several times, and they never call back. Even just to say they didn’t want to come on. As you know, he would be treated very respectfully on the program. But I wanted to get his thoughts on something that he said that I find very troubling. He was quoted in the Fresno Bee, at this function. He was talking about the Fresno police and community policing and he said the following. And I’m quoting right from the piece, he said “they”, fresno police, “are doing this community policing, they give our kids hotdogs and bounce houses, then when those kids turn 15 they shoot them in the back.”

Chief, I fail to understand how a man of god is sending out that kind of message, to adults and especially children, because that is the wrong message at this time in our history.

Dyer: Well I agree. When I was asked about the comment that was made, I said it was disheartening and disappointing. It serves no purpose other than to create a divide between law enforcement and members of the community, and especially communiities of color. And the comments… you know, whenever you, number one, become a leader, it is so important that you are careful about what you say and how you say it, because of the followers and who are there. Unfortunately there is a lot of the youth that were there that day that heard this. And young minds are easily influenced. And they can be at a very young age, brainwashed. And that makes it challenging for us in law enforcement. Then, when our officers have contact with those youth, their minds are somewhat tainted by this negative influence. And then we have negative encounters. So, I just.. you know, I’ve known Floyd for many years. There was a time when Floyd was very engaged in neighborhood watch in South West Fresno. There was an encounter between he and an officer over a parking ticket. Since that time, we’ve had some controversy. I’ve tried many times to… I’ve had conversations with Floyd, I saw him last night. I just wish we can sit down and resolve this issue, and work towards the betterment of our community.

Learn more about Rev. Floyd Harris Jr.

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