When the MNPD Doesn't, We Got Your Back: Speaking Out for 25 Nashville Police Women
Just two short weeks ago my feed was filled with black and white photos of women posting selfies with the hashtag #womensupportingwomen and shouting from the rooftops.
So this week, after spending hours pouring through documents from 19-25 women who’ve alleged sexual misconduct--including harassment, assault, rape and racism at the hands of co-workers and supervisors at Metro Nashville Police Department, it seemed a good time to launch a campaign to let women who feel invisible and silenced know that we got your back.
I made a few calls and immediately women responded. One of the first was Grammy Award Winning songwriter, Beth Nielsen Chapman who posted a powerful message of
Songwriter, Beth Nielsen Chapman
solidarity on Instagram & Facebook.
And it’s not just women. Men suffer in this system of complicit silence as well. Men who want to stand in solidarity with their female co-workers. Men who would never mistreat
their sisters and daughters but for a system that requires their silence and cooperation.
So yesterday we invited women (and men) to post 60 second messages of support and solidarity to all the women brave enough to step forward. We suggested posting 1 minute videos on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter with the hashtags #wegotyourback, #silentnolonger, #womensupportingwomen and #womenempowering.
While the the outpouring of support has been incredible, the need to rally around women who can't rely on the protection of those who are sworn to serve and protect us all is disheartening. And today, I broke down at the complicity, the silence and the exhaustion these women must feel and realizing the system is far more corrupt and damaging than we were ever willing to believe.
And unfortunately, we are not alone. What is happening in Nashville is happening across the country.
It is understandable that some don't have the bandwidth, motivation or energy to speak up--and out--during a time such as this. And the truth is, to do so invites political and social backlash during a time when we're already feeling disconnected from one another.
Systemic change is difficult but challenging racism and sexism in a culture that demands obedience and loyalty--through silence--fosters toxicity and inhumane behavior.
What is also disheartening is the dearth of strong Nashville leadership with a moral compass, the likes of John Seigenthaler, Rev Will Campbell, John Lewis or John Egerton—all of whom no longer walk the streets of Music City.
All of these men were unafraid of speaking up (or acting up) to challenge oppression and abuse and did so when called upon. But mostly, they spoke up and acted before they were ever asked. In fact they couldn’t stop themselves. Like John Lewis, C. T. Vivian and Dr. King, standing strong in the face of adversity was who they were. And as John Lewis reminded us over and over, it was good trouble they got into.
Lately, it appears we have a Mayor who seems more concerned about good press than bad policing or 25 women alleging sexual assault and/or misconduct. His apparent lack of empathy or outrage at the alleged abuse has been startling to witness.
Almost Two days after stories broke about the 25 women alleging sexual misconduct reported by NPR and Nashville Scene, Mayor, Cooper hadn't spoken publicly about the charges, the women, their suffering or his commitment to get to the bottom of the matter or demand justice.
Instead, the Mayor's first remarks after being asked about the women's allegations were about the former Chief of Police, Steve Anderson. He waxed poetic about Anderson, calling him, a 'patriot', a patriot who retired less than 8 hours after the story of sexual misconduct charges broke earlier that day. Only then did the Mayor respond about the women--only to say that he couldn't comment because he hadn't read the allegations. But then, several sentences later, the Mayor insisted that not all the claims were true.
After public pressure, the Mayor expressed interest in an investigation of Captain Jason Reinbold an MNPD employee who not only has a history of domestic abuse but is accused of assaulting a female MNPD employee.
Reinbold recently rose to fame in May after engaging in a shouting match with a nanny who was picnicking near his house with a group of children. The Captain--who was on duty at the time--insisted the nanny didn't belong in his neighborhood and after videotaping the encounter and posting on social media, the nanny made Reinbold almost as famous in Italy as he is in Music City.
Within a few days the number of complaints filed grew from 19 to 25 and following public outrage, the mayor announced there would be an investigation for one of the 25 charges, Captain Reinbold. It was to be investigated by the District Attorney's office.
After more push-back, because the DA's office had already investigated the charges originally, the DA's office requested the investigation be handled by Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
Many believe that because of how closely aligned the District Attorney's office is with the TBI and Attorney General, a truly independent investigation would require an entity outside of Tennessee with no allegiance or loyalty to any officials involved.
It is clear the community must stay involved and informed of this process and to be prepared to push-back again and again against a system that fosters and promotes a culture of secrecy and intimidation and a network of powerful men who have operated without challenge for decades. Power is the water in which they swim and we must clean the fish tank.
To those who have already lent their voices and urged the Mayor's office to conduct an independent investigation, thank you. For those willing to add your voice, please do.
Stand up for the women and men who face intimidation, silence and secrecy.
We suggested posting 1 minute videos on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter with the hashtags #wegotyourback, #silentnolonger, #womensupportingwomen and #womenempowering.
Let them know how amazed and in awe we are of them for stepping up and speaking out. Let them know we're all up for a little good trouble.
Let them know:
We see you. We hear you.
We Got your back.
Molly Secours is a writer/filmmaker/speaker and author of White Privilege Pop Quiz: A test you can't fail.