Chief Lowery doesn’t want you at meetings if you don’t have anything nice to say

DeKalb’s police chief, Eugene Lowery, is so very, very tired of your negativity. Here’s what he said at Monday’s Committee of the Whole meeting of council.

I want you to hear everyone’s voice. Not the voices of the few that walk up to this podium, and day in and day out, or week in and week out, have nothing but negative things to say.

In this setting (or so my 12 years of watchdogging the city tell me) “negativity” is substituted for the more accurate word “disagreement.” It’s a device the bureaucrats occasionally use to try to silence and marginalize people who disagree with their ideas, goals and methods.

But I don’t believe I’ve ever heard a city employee straight-up tell the city council who to listen to. That part may be unprecedented.

More from Chief Lowery:

God, I shouldn’t say this, but I’m going to say it anyway. I believe Brendan Behan was an Episcopalian bishop, I think it was, like, late 1800s. He said this: “Critics are like eunuchs in a harem. They know how it’s done, they’ve seen it done every day, but they are unable to do it themselves.”*

So first Chief Lowery tells council members there are some folks they shouldn’t listen to. Then he reinforces his message with a gratuitous, coarse, and hostile insult, addressed to council or certain citizens or both.

Dialog between citizens and their council is the entire point of the right to public comments at meetings. Attempted interference with that right and that dialog amounts to a breach of professional conduct.

Yeah, I know we’ve seen similar behavior before from city staff; nobody’s done anything about it and probably won’t now. But it’s one thing for a management analyst to badmouth citizens at meetings to try to cover for his mistakes, and quite another for a sworn officer of the law to try to clear a meeting of critics with intertwined imagery of sex and powerlessness. At minimum, the inappropriate behavior must be called out, if only by us sad, sad eunuchs.

Below is the video of the meeting. The chief’s comments that I’ve transcribed occur after the 40-minute mark.

*I don’t know which Behan the chief was referencing, but the one who made that quote was a writer and playwright, and was therefore whingeing about critics of his plays and books. That’s a bit of a different situation from that of citizen participation.