On Wednesday, October 6th, I sat down with Lieutenant Gerald Lohr of the Saint Louis County Police Department for an interview to speak with him about his experience in law enforcement and information about the Black Lives Matter movement. I spoke with Lt. Lohr to hear the story and thoughts of a Police Officer with a lot of experience and first-hand accounts of the events that circulated around the killing of Michael Brown in 2014. The main idea was to learn about the viewpoints of law enforcers, the movements sparked from the Michael Brown Case, and “the other side”.
Lt. Lohr was born in Nashville, Tennessee. He explained how he did not want to work in an office; he wanted to be out in the field. He is very passionate about protecting the citizens. Lt. Lohr then moved to North County in Saint Louis and joined the Saint Louis County Police Department, and eventually the Affton Police Department. In 2016, he was moved to the Special Operations Department. His current title is the Deputy Commander of the Division of Tactical Support.
Lt. Lohr explained what roles he played in controlling crowds and protests. 24-48 hours after the shooting, the protests broke out. The police department assigned 12 hour mandatory shifts. He was assigned as a Watch Supervisor, and his job was to supervise night events at the riots and protests. He had to guide officers into the field on foot, or sometimes on buses or cars.
On August 25th-26th, the decision of the Michael Brown Case was about to be released. Lt. Lohr was assigned to supervise in front of the Ferguson Police Department. One year later, on the anniversary of the death of Michael Brown, he was assigned to the same position.
Lt. Lohr believes the Michael Brown Case was a spark of the Black Lives Matter movement, but other issues were involved about the build up of anger towards police. In the Saint Louis County, citizens were growing angrier due to a 40%+ revenue, which the counties were collecting from small violations. People were being fined for minor incidents like wearing pants that were saggy, playing loud music, and traffic offenses. Similar incidents were happening across the country, where people began to question police brutality and the collecting of revenue. Some citizens protested for the collecting of revenue. (See: “How Municipalities in St. Louis, MO, Profit from Poverty”)
Meanwhile, other killings were happening around the country, like the Tamir Rice Case and the Eric Garner Case. More people in America began to see a race issue and police brutality.
Although Lt. Lohr believes that racial profiling and police brutality exists and has expressed that he is against it, he believes that these issues are inevitable and cannot be eliminated. The police became the enemy to many people in America.
As a member of the Saint Louis County Police Department, Lt. Lohr and other officers felt betrayed. He said they are just law enforcers, and their job is to do what they are told to do. He also believes that a media slant caused this. More shootings were beginning to make National news, even though similar events had happened before 2014.
After 2014, an organization called “Blue Lives Matter” was formed to support the contributions of law enforcers who protect our communities. Lt. Lohr described how organizations such as this and the Black Lives Matter movement are created to help people feel as if they are something bigger and to be a part of a group that supports their own beliefs. “Blue Lives Matter” has created controversy over the years, causing people to be against the organization and protest more. Lt. Lohr spoke about how the two movements would obviously have issues with each other, but it contributes to the beauty of America, where every citizen has the right to express their opinions and morals.
Overall, Lt. Lohr believes in the ideas of the Black Lives Matter movement, but there needs to be a face, or a leader and a specific goal. When a specific goal and leader are formed, this will help the Black Lives Matter movement progress.
In a follow up to the interview, Lt. Lohr spoke about the division between the two movements: “I don’t believe that we will ever reach a point where everyone comes together in 100% agreement, and that’s ok. That is what makes our country great. However, we can’t let our differences drive us so far apart that we can’t even have the conversations.” (Liutenant Gerald Lohr)
The point is, our country will never be in full agreement. However, the different opinions and beliefs of the citizens of the United States creates a stronger country. People can come together to support movements they strongly believe in. In the future, this will help our country grow and progress, even with the multiple opinions and subjects. The colors black and blue are usually associated with a bruise. A bruise on our country hurts, but we must go through pain and hard times in order to grow.
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