By Bryan Boggiano
Strong opinions collided on Twitter between Vice Mayor Joshua Simmons and the Coral Springs Fraternal Order of Police.
The exchange started Wednesday morning when Simmons posted a pair of tweets about Ma’Khia Bryant; a 16-year-old Black girl shot and killed by police in Columbus, Ohio. According to The Columbus Dispatch, she had a knife in her hand and physically assaulted somebody leading up to the shooting.
Simmons tweeted that while there are good, hard-working officers, changes are necessary in policing, especially regarding black people, communities of color, and the use of lethal force.
“This 16-year-old kid was shot and killed in almost 10 seconds after the officer left his car,” Simmons tweeted. “It continues to be that Black bodies are killed while others are able to see their day in court. That has to end.”
The police union tweeted a series of responses, accusing Simmons of rushing to judgment, saying that harm may not have been imminent, asking him if officers should have let a potential stabbing happen because Bryant is black, “crucifying” cops, and believing stories are factual because the media and celebrities posted them.
“Just because you see it on the news – or on Lebron James’ Twitter account doesn’t make it so….Stop being part of the problem and be part of the solution,” they tweeted.
Simmons strongly denied the allegations, tweeting that he forms his own opinions, that he is not anti-cop, and that he uses his position to build bridges to keep the community safe.
In further tweets, Simmons agreed that the police might have saved somebody in Columbus, but he still wondered if there was a way they could have deescalated the situation without lethal force.
He tweeted that police reform needs to happen, which the union strongly disagreed with, accusing Simmons of saying that none of the responsibility is on citizens and placing all blame on the police.
“It’s unfortunate that you have chosen to use your position to continue the spread of a false narrative,” the union tweeted. “Nothing in your posts that show you are a “bridgebuilder” – Quite the opposite, actually. We didn’t [choose] to come at you; you posted anti-police rhetoric, and we replied.”
Being a member of law enforcement isn’t an easy job. I know there are officers out there that work hard everyday and do everything the right way. However, the culture must change. This 16 year old kid was shot and killed in almost 10 seconds after the officer left his car.
— Joshua Simmons (@SimmonsinCS) April 21, 2021
The exchange continued through Wednesday afternoon and died down that evening. Since then, Simmons tweeted once to the union Thursday morning.
He posted, “You had an opportunity to teach me, to walk me through the situation. You decided to come after me. I had/have what I believe to be a fair question. Was there a way for her to be alive, was the deadly use of force his only recourse? Those are valid questions.”
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