Baltimore, MD – Baltimore Police Commissioner Darryl De Sousa took the stage at a hip-hop concert on Apr. 18 to apologize to the crowd for “all of the things that the police have done dating back 200 years,” multiple videos showed.
The ill-received apology was given alongside Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh, as the pair stood before the crowd at an Eric B. and Rakim show at the Baltimore Soundstage, The Washington Times reported.
A minister from the Nation of Islam also flanked the pair, the Baltimore Fishbowl reported.
The Nation of Islam is an SPLC designated hate group. The SPLC described the group saying, “Its theology of innate black superiority over whites and the deeply racist, antisemitic and anti-LGBT rhetoric of its leaders have earned the NOI a prominent position in the ranks of organized hate.”
“I want to take about 20 seconds to apologize for all the things the police have done dating back 200 years,” Commissioner De Sousa said, conjuring up boos and a smattering of applause from the concertgoers.
“Two hundred years ago, all the way to civil rights. All the way to the ’80s where crack was prevalent in the cities and it affected disproportionately African-American men. All the way to the ’90s. All the way to the 2000s when we had zero tolerance,” the commissioner went on to outline.
“I want to take the time to apologize for what policing did, and I promise you we’re going to make a change in the future,” he said.
Commissioner De Sousa’s words not only drew booing from most in attendance – they also drew the ire of law enforcement officers and their supporters.
On Friday, retired Baltimore Police Major Wesley Wise issued a statement through The Baltimore Sun, and slammed the commissioner for his words.
“Commissioner De Sousa had no need and, in fact, no right to ‘apologize’ for me or my 36 years of service to the department…and to the city I once loved,” Maj. Wise wrote in a scathing editorial. “Those remarks and that lame ‘apology’ are offensive, and as of this moment, I’m almost ashamed to be associated with what has become of my beloved police department.”
Maj. Wise argued that the had served the city with distinction, and that the commissioner’s remarks demeaned the years the major had devoted to Baltimore.
“Commissioner De Sousa has demeaned himself, which…he had every right to do, but he did not have the right to demean me, my contemporaries, or my department,” Maj. Wise wrote.
He then addressed the commissioner pointedly.
“Mr. De Sousa, you sir, and your remarks are a disgrace,” Maj. Wise wrote. “You should be apologizing to the Baltimore City Police Department, not for the department.”
In an Apr. 19 statement, Baltimore Fraternal Order of Police President Gene Ryan said that he agreed that some past policing strategies had been unacceptable, to include zero tolerance, but that the commissioner’s apology had gone too far.
“I’m not sure that a blanket apology covering 200 years is appropriate,” Ryan said. “Law enforcement was created to protect and serve the citizenry despite race and that is what we strive to do, daily.”
You can watch footage of Commissioner De Sousa’s concert appearance in the video below: