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Elizabeth Warren’s allegation of racism blasted by Yarmouth police chief


Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s blast at the “racist” criminal-justice system may have won her points with the progressive crowd at Netroots Nation, but not so much with the men and women in blue back in Massachusetts.

Yarmouth Police Chief Frank G. Frederickson condemned her remarks “an insult to the hard working men and women of the Yarmouth Police Department,” as well as other local, state and federal law-enforcement officers.

“Additionally there are many District Attorneys, Judges, Probation Officers, Parole Officers and other parts of the system that she slapped in the face,” said Chief Frederickson in a Friday statement on Facebook.

In her Aug. 3 remarks, the Democratic senator denounced the system as “racist … front to back” during a Netroots Nation session at Dillard University in New Orleans.

“Let’s just start with the hard truth about our criminal justice system,” Ms. Warren said. “It’s racist. It is. And when I say our system, I mean all the way. I mean front to back. We’re talking about the front end on what you declare to be illegal; on how you enforce it, on who gets arrested.”

Dudley Police Department Chief Steven J. Wojnar, who heads the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association, accused her of trying to score political points, saying “it appears your statement was strategically placed to gather support for your position.”

“Labeling the entire criminal justice profession as ‘racist’ spreads false and damaging information about our members,” Chief Wojnar said in an Aug. 7 letter.

Ms. Warren, a potential 2020 presidential contender, has since moved to clarify her racism charge, releasing a statement over the weekend saying her remarks were aimed at “an entire system — not individuals.”

“I appreciate Chief Frederickson’s thoughtful comments,” she said in the statement. “The men and women in law enforcement work in incredibly dangerous situations. We honor those in uniform who put their lives on the line every day and those who have been killed in the line of duty to keep the rest of us safe. I spoke about an entire system — not individuals — and will continue to work on reforms to make the criminal justice system fairer.”

At a town hall Sunday in Eastham, she said “the system needs reform” while praising the “hardworking people” of law enforcement.

“There are a lot of terrific people. Hardworking people, dedicated people who are in our criminal justice system,” she said in the Boston Herald.

Chief Frederickson also asked whether Ms. Warren was sincere when she offered her condolences recently after the deaths of two officers in the line of duty.

“It is more bothersome that a short time ago Sen. Warren made some efforts to pay respects to Sgt. Sean Gannon and Sgt. Michael Chesna who lost their lives while protecting us all,” Chief Frederickson said. “Sen. Warren’s recent statement tarnished us all and diminished the sincerity of her condolence efforts. I now cannot trust her actions or words are real.”

Yarmouth Sgt. Gannon, 32, was shot in the head in April delivering an arrest warrant in Barnstable. Weymouth Police Department Sgt. Chesna was hit in the head with a rock and shot several times with his own gun while investigating a car crash in July.

“On each occasion mentioned above, the respective chiefs were contacted by their elected local, state, and federal officials. They were offered any support necessary,” Chief Wojnar said in his letter. “I am sure the discussion about the profession being racist was never brought up during these times. Why is it appropriate now?”

A campaign spokeswoman told the Boston Globe that Ms. Warren, who’s seeking re-election in November, has since spoken with Chief Frederickson but offered no details.

Republican candidates seeking the Senate nomination have also criticized Ms. Warren’s racism charge and called on her to apologize.

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