The Fairfax Fraternal Order of Police Lodge, a local police union in Virginia, was upset over a “Black Lives Matter” sign at a family farm and tried to organize a boycott of the farm. Instead, they only sparked a gigantic backlash.
The sign, which police mistakenly believed was posted by Cox Farms but was instead posted in a family residence near the farm, was “disturbing and disappointing,” the FOP said in a Facebook post.
“This is a time in which law enforcement is the target for criticism for almost everything they do and officers are constantly questioned by the public and the media without the benefit of all the facts,” the post, which has since been deleted, read. “The presence of this sign at Cox’s Farms helps perpetuate this kind of behavior and judgment. I know you have heard it about a million times but the truth is that ‘All Lives Matter.’”
Gina Cox, who owns Cox Farms, said that the sign was posted by her daughter and that it was within her right to do so.
“It’s her private property and she can put up any political sign she wants to in her yard,” she told WUSA. “We treasure our relationship with our local police force, it’s not anything against them at all.”
Anti-police brutality activists have since accused the FOP of bullying.
“The Facebook post they made, which was removed because of the unprecedented public outrage towards their attempt to bully a local landmark and beloved destination, further reinforces the lack of trust in the Fairfax County Police Department,” said Mike Curtis of the organization CopBlock.
Brad Carruthers, FOP president, has since said that the post was taken down because it was the “wiser course of action.”
Cox Family Response re: Black Lives Matter Sign/Fairfax FOP Boycott
October 15, 2015 at 12:31pm
Below is a response provided by the Cox Family regarding the recent controversy about the Black Lives Matter sign displayed in the window of a residence there:
Cox Farms hosts a Fall Festival every year at our farm in Centreville, VA. We spend all year eagerly preparing for these few weeks each fall, and we love opening our farm to celebrate the season with our community.
Recently, several individuals as well as the Fairfax County Fraternal Order of Police have called for a boycott of our farm, insisting that we are, in their words, anti-police supporters of a terrorist organization that advocates killing police officers. (While the FOP deleted their original Facebook post, you can read it here: https://twitter.com/MolaReports/status/654511007692365825/photo/1?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw
and the full comments here:https://drive.google.com/file/d/0ByARN1OT9G_2TWFsUi1IaGE3TDQ/view
They have come to this conclusion because one of us (there are five owners of our business; the two founders and their three adult children) has a “Black Lives Matter” sign displayed in an upstairs window of their private residence. The home is on a separate property that is not owned by Cox Farms, but it is very visible to visitors entering the Fall Festival.
We have always believed that we had a very positive relationship with our local police department. We have contracted FCPD officers to provide security for our festival for over a decade. We have supported their fundraising efforts, donated to their Police Unity tour, employed their children, and offered discounts to officers on our Public Servants Weekends. Neither our family nor our business is anti-cop, and we are absolutely anti-violence, against anyone. For this reason, we were especially surprised that the FOP and so many local officers jumped on the call to boycott our business and make such hateful accusations against us via social media.
Black Lives Matter. As a family, we believe that Black lives matter, and we find it alarming that the statement incites such a backlash. Neither our sign nor the Black Lives Matter movement says that ONLY Black lives matter, or that Black lives matter more than anyone else, and the sign certainly doesn’t say anything about police officers. When you’re putting out a house fire, it doesn’t mean that you only care about that one house that’s burning; it just means you’re addressing the crisis at hand. Folks dedicated to raising awareness about breast cancer aren’t saying that all other cancers are unimportant. Our family recognizes that all lives are important, and because we believe that, we know that Black lives matter.
Valuing Black lives and respecting the lives and work of police officers are not mutually exclusive. Knowing and respecting as many FCPD officers as we do, we’re confident that many on our local police force know and understand this too; after all, how can they serve and protect all members of our community if they do not believe that Black lives matter? We also know that the threatening comments on the original FOB Facebook post (those referencing throwing a brick through the window of our home, or the ones implying that perhaps the police might not respond to emergency calls for help) do not reflect the values and work ethic of the Fairfax County police officers we know and respect.
Most of the people who are really mad about the sign are so offended because they believe the sign message is a direct attack on police officers. Yes, we have read the Black Lives Matter manifesto. From their website: “#BlackLivesMatter is working for a world where Black lives are no longer systematically and intentionally targeted for demise.” That statement is absolutely in line with our family values. As a family, we are anti-racist and pro-justice. We recognize that systemic racism is real, and we embrace our roles as allies working to dismantle it.
At this point, when completely mainstream presidential candidates openly embrace Black Lives Matter as a legitimate organization and a crucial voice in the conversation about racial justice and racism in this country, it was shocking to us to see the vitriol expressed about the sign in our family’s window. Is this some radical declaration from Cox Farms? No. Is the Cox family endorsing killing police officers? Of course not, and if you read anything from the actual organization, neither is Black Lives Matter.
Are there some folks on the fringe who are so angry at the state of racism and disregard for Black lives in this country that they were chanting violent words in heated emotional moments of protesting? Yes, that happened. But are there individual police officers who have unjustifiably killed innocent Black people? Yes, that has happened, too. These are both truths in a complicated conversation about race and violence and racial justice.
As a family, we embrace complicated conversation; growing up, it was part of our family dinners every night. We encourage anyone who actually wants to join a dialogue about the sign or the movement to start by reviewing information directly from the source: you can read what Black Lives Matter is actually about here.
About fifteen years ago, some visitors started a boycott of our Fall Festival because we flew rainbow flags over our hay tunnel, and they were concerned that Cox Farms was “promoting the homosexual agenda.” Our business has continued to grow, and our rainbow flags are still flying.
As a family, we know that when you’re on the right side of history, love wins. Right now, it means that some people in our community no longer feel comfortable supporting our business, and we respect that. We realize that some police officers no longer feel welcome at our business, and to them, we extend an invitation to dialogue with us about that, or to just come and play with their families. We’re a really fun and welcoming place, and it looks like a great weekend to play at the Fall Festival!
It's so darn cute that the Post would ask a question like this. I hope their starry-eyed optimism never wanes.
But you know what?
The Post has been the ONLY local leading publication and news organization that's reported on the Fairfax County Police consistently and fairly so their entitled to be as silly and optimistic as they like on this issue.
The Post's View
Will Fairfax police be reformed?
By Editorial Board October 17
THE UNWARRANTED death of John Geer, the unarmed man shot and killed by a Fairfax County police officer in 2013 as he stood on the doorstep of his own house in Springfield, seemed for the longest time akin to death-by-lightning-bolt. A tragic event, to be sure, but one that imparted no lessons, triggered no consequences and engendered no reforms. The official response: too bad, just one of those things.
Owing to public outrage in Fairfax, that has now changed. After two years of prosecutorial paralysis, both at the federal and state levels, the police officer who shot Mr. Geer, Adam Torres, was indicted on murder charges this summer. And, this month, a county commission established to review police department procedures emerged from six months of deliberations with an array of tough recommendations that would establish a new regimen of accountability for the cops.
The commission’s recommendations, adopted unanimously, will now be put to the county’s Board of Supervisors. They deserve robust support, especially the one most likely to encounter pushback from department: the establishment of a civilian panel to review allegations of police abuse and misconduct.
Fairfax’s police department, with 1,400 sworn officers, is, after the state police, the biggest law enforcement agency in Virginia. Before Mr. Geer’s death, and several other similarly questionable police shootings in recent years, it enjoyed a sterling reputation. But the aftermath of the Geer shooting — witnessed in broad daylight by several other officers (who didn’t shoot) as well as neighbors — was a textbook case of how not to cultivate the public’s trust. Basic information, including the name of the officer who shot Mr. Geer, was withheld. For months, the department offered no coherent (or true) explanation of what had happened. Prosecutors punted the case to the feds, with no apparent justification.
Police and prosecutors finally awoke from their torpor and did their jobs — but not until Mr. Geer’s family, justifiably angry and bewildered at the official inertia, filed suit, a U.S. senator started asking questions and county residents started protesting publicly.
Sound policies and procedures would prevent another such farce, as the commission empowered by the Board of Supervisors understood. In addition to its recommendation that a seven-member citizens’ panel be established to review alleged police misconduct, the commission urged that an independent auditor be empowered to oversee internal police investigations in cases involving the use of force, including when police kill civilians. The auditor would be named by and report to the Board of Supervisors.
In addition, the commission laid out an array of reforms whose effect would be to tilt the police toward 21st-century policies of transparency and information-sharing, and more restraint in the use of force by officers in tense situations. Key to that is the deployment of more teams or individual officers with specialized training in dealing with mentally ill people, who now constitute big shares of those detained and jailed in the county.
Grumbling has already begun, particularly about the civilian review panel. The county police chief, Edwin Roessler, is withholding his consent, and the police union has rejected it outright.
The fact is, most of the nation’s largest police departments have such review panels, and most of them include or are composed of civilians, and for good reason; that’s whom the department serves. Whether the Board of Supervisors stands up to the department or succumbs to it will be a test of elected officials’ backbone and resolve to clean up the police.