Thank you, Sheriff Chris Quire. Thank you for listening to the people and making the necessary adjustments to protect our physical and emotional well-being. Thank you for being willing to initiate an investigation into the allegations of racial discrimination involving one of your deputies, regardless of a report that seems to laud him as one of the most upstanding deputies Franklin County has ever seen.
The truth is, as a black woman, I am not at all surprised by this report. History continues to repeat itself to our detriment over and over and over. The accused becomes the victim.
This man is said to have been unjustly and personally attacked by the public defenders of Franklin County. We should simply overlook the fact that there were 16 policy violations that investigator Carl Christiansen “observed” during his review of this deputy’s file in Versailles. Why on earth should any citizen care about him being cited for “dishonesty, insubordination, associating with disreputable persons, taking photos of a female accident victim without her knowledge”?
What is important is that he was named Deputy of the Year twice. TWICE. And though there is one little admonition in his Franklin County file citing improper handling of evidence, who cares? There are 11 letters in which “citizens and/or other law enforcement agencies applauded” his efforts.
I get it. My people have been getting it for over 400 years. This is yet another form of oppression. The “investigation” and subsequent report by Christiansen about Farmer is a public statement: Be quiet.
The report does not surprise or sadden me. What saddens me is the number of people who said to me, “This is why we don’t say anything. What’s the point?” What’s the point? The point is that we are tired. Not just tired, but completely and absolutely exhausted. Black and brown people have simply had enough.
When Amber Guyger murdered Botham Jean in his own home while he was eating ice cream, we saw an attack on Botham. We learned that a negligible amount of marijuana was seized by police while searching his home.
When Ahmaud Arbery was gunned down by Gregory and Travis McMichael while jogging near his home, we learned that Ahmaud was previously on probation for bringing a gun to high school when he was a student. There was also an old shoplifting issue.
When George Floyd was murdered in the street, we learned that he served eight jail terms.
Breonna Taylor’s crime for being shot to death in her own home by police officers was a previous relationship with someone known to the police.
The pattern repeats itself over and over. If it can be shown that they were people of ill repute, then it isn’t racism at all and they weren’t victims. These were simply people that deserved what they got and therefore we should just be quiet.
The Franklin County public defenders took the brunt of the punishment for daring to speak out and demand transparency and answers. How dare they highlight allegations of racial injustice from such a fine gentleman? He was Deputy of the Year — twice. How dare they refuse to just be quiet?
Well, I personally have had enough. I’m exhausted of being discredited, muted and pushed aside. As disgusting as this “independent review” full of inaccuracies, misquotes and failed opportunities for growth and healing was, I am thankful for it. I am thankful for the fact that maybe a few more eyes have been opened to what systemic racism looks like.
This review of the deputy is the reason most victims of racial injustice suffer in silence, and the very reason why we can no longer afford to say nothing. I am disheartened. I am bone tired. I am saddened to my core, but I am resolved to keep pushing forward. I will not be quiet.
Kristie Powe, of Frankfort, is the vice president of Focus on Race Relations, which describes itself as "a diverse group of community individuals seeking to raise the level of awareness about race and race related issues in Frankfort/Franklin County." She can be emailed at email@example.com