State Rep. Alan Powell’s response to the announcement that he was among the 16 members of a task force charged with overhauling police training requirements has sparked criticism.
The Hartwell Republican posted on Facebook “All lives matter!” above the news of Gov. Nathan Deal’s Tuesday announcement, and it quickly spread in political circles.
That phrase has become a controversial answer to the “Black Lives Matter” movement that demonstrated in the streets of Atlanta and other major cities after police shootings.
While the movement’s activists seek to highlight the danger that African-Americans face from racial profiling and disproportionate sentences, they say the “All Lives Matter” response neutralizes their specific concerns about the black community.
Powell, a Hartwell Republican who chairs the House’s Public Safety Committee, said he meant no harm by the post.
“It shouldn’t be hard to understand that all lives matter – regardless of race, gender or personal orientation,” he said.
But some Black Lives Matter leaders say it undermines the purpose of Deal’s task force, which will review police training to include more courses on use of force and community policing after a summer of violence and unrest in the nation’s streets.
Khalid Kamau, a Black Lives Matter activist in middle Georgia, said it spotlights Powell’s “arrogance and ignorance.”
“It just shows how tone-deaf they are,” said Kamau. “For that to happen before the task force even meets, well it sets the tone. It’s very telling.”
Deal on Tuesday tapped 16 members of the task force, including several law enforcement officers, politicians and attorneys. It includes five black members, including a Macon judge, a Barnesville community activist, the Albany police chief and a city manager of Union City.
Asked Wednesday whether he felt the panel was diverse enough to carry out its mission, Deal said he had confidence in his picks.
“I think that’s a great group,” he said. “If you look at every one of the individuals that’s been appointed, they all possess unique points of view and perspectives.”