A black Los Angeles Police Department officer has accused some people protesting perceived law enforcement discrimination of being guilty of the same thing.
Sgt. James Baker, who has been on the receiving end of verbal volleys from protestors, has rejected comparisons between the racism he experienced growing up in Jackson, Mississippi, during the civil rights movement and the discrimination police are accused of now.
The officer said he himself had been the victim of discrimination from African-American communities due to his profession.
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"I saw things in the South that I knew was horrible. It was bad in those days," said Baker, who has been a law enforcement officer for the past 28 years. "If I judge you on a particular thing, you say I’m racist, the LAPD is racist. But you judge me, you say you're right, you're factually right, (it) doesn't work that way.
"Sometimes my worst critics were the African-American community," Baker added. "They say, ‘You turned against us. You're an Uncle Tom.’ I think, 'How can people say that to me?'"
Baker also rejected claims from protestors that he has been held down by his race, and pointed out he is in charge of coordinating the LAPD's response to demonstrations.
But he said he still enjoys interacting with protestors, even when things become heated, as he believes it's the first step towards mutual understanding.
When he retires in three years, he said, he may accept a challenge from a protestor during a recent exchange.
"(He said) you should take that uniform off and come out here with us. I said, 'You know when I retire maybe I will, and do it the right away.'"