Police chiefs speak on Brownwood protest, Floyd death

Staff Writer
Brownwood Bulletin
Brownwood Police Chief Ed Kading kneels outside City Hall as protesters lie face down on the pavement.

The police chiefs of Brownwood and Early explained what brought them to the protesters’ march Monday in downtown Brownwood — and both expressed their disdain over the actions of the Minneapolis, Minn. police officer who took the life of George Floyd.

Early Police Chief David Mercer said he was present for “a number of reasons. Obviously the incident that brought all this to light, we’re as angry about it as anybody,” Mercer said.

“A bad cop makes the whole profession look bad. Nobody hates a bad cop worse than good cops.”

Mercer said he was also present to help provide security for the protesters.

When asked if he had any understanding of the Minneapolis officer’s action, Mercer said, “I don’t understand why. I’m not sure what his thought process was or what he based it on. I know several people tried to stop him from doing it. He’s definitely got some explaining to do before the courts.

“I would say 99.9 percent of law enforcement across the nation wants to help people. None of them wants to hurt people. None of them want to go out and get in a shooting. The cards that are dealt them during the day is what brings them to that, but none of them want into that. Their sole goal is to help people be safe and have a good life.”

Brownwood Police Chief Ed Kading said he, too, was present “for a couple of different reasons. First of all, I support the subject of their demonstration. What happened to Mr. Floyd was beyond reasonable. It should have never happened.

“And also I’m here, obviously, as the chief of police here in Brownwood. This is happening in our community. As I said to a couple of other people today, no one supports the constitution more than myself. What I was really hoping, and expected — which is what happened — is that Brownwood can be the example of how you have a peaceful protest, and how you start the dialogue toward all of us treating each other better.”

Kading said he appreciates the comments the protest’s organizers made about police and the community.

“Everybody did a fantastic job,” Kading said. “We’re also here in the capacity to protect these people’s right to protest against police. That’s one of the things that makes this country great.

“So we’re fulfilling a duty and we are supporting their cause, and we’re making sure that not only is it peaceful but that no one tries to hurt them in their pursuit of their first amendment rights. It all worked out great.”

Like Mercer, Kading said he has no explanations for the actions of the Minneapolis officer who took Floyd’s life.

“I have none,” Kading said. “Police departments, police officers, are not trained to do that sort of thing. It is just absolutely needless. What’s really hurt me, besides what happened, is the country seems to be themselves apart over this, causing all kinds of damage and injury to people.

“But I expected that Brownwood would be peaceful and that we could walk down the streets together and give them their opportunity to exercise their right, and we will support that and keep them safe.”

Kading said he thinks the protest brings some of the issues to the forefront. Kading also said he hopes it starts some conversations in the community.

“If we could take the opportunity just to understand each other better and have some empathy … you don’t know what people are going through,” Kading said. “If we can be a little bit more patient and empathetic and understanding …

“As much as I respect the constitution, I also respect the rule of law. (Monday) they followed the law to the letter. It was pretty moving to see this many people come out and support this effort.”

Referring to police Operations Lt. James Kidd’s decision to lie face down with protesters, Kading said, “It takes a lot of courage to do what he did. Some of us were kneeling, he was laying down. Some of us were trying just to direct traffic to make sure that everyone was safe while they were on the ground.

“I’m proud of him. This is his hometown too and he’s a great example for the department.”

David Mercer