SNOWFLAKE — Snowflake state House Rep. Walt Blackman considers Black Lives Matter akin to a terrorist organization and says George Floyd was “no saint.”

Rep. Walter Blackman picture

Rep. Walter Blackman (R) Snowflake

The first black Republican elected to the legislature, Blackman’s comments on a radio interview and an interview with the Arizona Republic and Arizona Capitol Times drew a furious response from some Democrats and activist groups, in the midst of nationwide protests spurred by the death of Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis.

But the former Army sergeant seeking re-election in District 6 says the backlash against his comments “has been fantastic.”

In reference to the Arizona Republic article, Blackman said “I know it was meant to be a hit piece, however, I have literally received thousands of message of support.”

Some critics dismissed the remarks as “ignorant” and “divisive.”

On the radio show, Blackman commented “I DO NOT support George Floyd and I refuse to see him as a martyr. But I hope his family receives justice.”

He also maintained that the Black Lives Matter movement had become infiltrated by ANTIFA, which he labeled as a “terrorist” organization.

ANTIFA advocates militant opposition to fascism and white supremacy and has been sharply critical of police response to protests and demonstrations. Scholars say the group has roots going back to World War II and the resistance to the rise of fascism and re-emerged in Europe in the 70s and 80s in opposition to reawakened fascist groups. They may have several hundred members and have been involved sporadically in protests and efforts to “out” white supremacists and neo-Nazis. The group’s very decentralized, with some members embracing violence as a tactic, according to Rutgers University historian Mark Bray, who wrote a book about the group.

Black Lives Matter is an international human rights movement founded in 2013 after the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of black teenager Trayvon Martin. The group staged demonstrations in 2014 following the deaths at the hands of police of Michael Brown in Ferguson and Eric Garner in New York City. The group has continued to file lawsuits and organize demonstrations and has played a leading role in the nationwide protests the followed the death of George Floyd.

Floyd was a Minneapolis bouncer, who’d been laid off and had also reportedly survived COVID-19. Previously, he’d been in and out of trouble with the law as a result of his drug use. The coroner later reported that he had methamphetamine in his system before his death. Police received a call that a black man had passed a bogus $20 bill. When police arrived, they found Floyd sitting on his car. They questioned him and at some point handcuffed him. Police accounts have not suggested he resisted arrest. Floyd was forced onto the ground by a Minneapolis police officer with a long history of complaints for excessive force. The officer knelt on Floyd’s neck with his hands in his pockets for nine minutes. Floyd repeatedly said he couldn’t breathe. Three other officers kept at bay bystanders who recorded the incident pleaded with officers to let Floyd up. The officer continued to kneel on Floyd’s neck for at least a minute after paramedics arrived and took Floyd’s pulse beneath the officer’s knee.

The officer who knelt on his neck has been charged with second degree murder and the three officers with other crimes.

The recording of the incident spurred protests nation-wide, some of which ended in rioting and violence – including a rampage through a Scottsdale shopping mall that reportedly caused millions in damage. Gov. Doug Ducey imposed an 8 p.m. curfew to curtail violence, which has now expired.

Blackman is seeking re-election to his seat in the Arizona House after serving one term.

During his radio appearance and interviews, he also criticized Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction, Kathy Hoffman for supporting the Black Lives Matter demonstrations, likening it to “a governor writing and supporting and endorsing the KKK or an extremist right group and putting it on their letterhead.”

Blacksman said George Floyd was “invested in crime” in a video he posted to Facebook.

In an interview with Capitol Times, Blackman said Black Lives Matter was an “ideology that goes against the very concepts and precepts of our principles in the United States. They started out one way and they were about helping the community and pulling themselves up. Today, they have splinter organizations that have moved away from the original message that have been infiltrated by ANTIFA.”

He said the media should focus on the 58 police officers killed in the line of duty last year. “Why don’t you have those numbers?” he said.

The FBI reported that 89 law enforcement officers died in the line of duty, including 48 who died as a result of “felonious acts” and 41 who died in accidents. In 2018, 56 officers were killed. (https://www.fbi.gov/news/pressrel/press-releases/fbi-releases-2019-statistics-on-law-enforcement-officers-killed-in-the-line-of-duty)

Police shot to death 1004 people in 2019, according to Statistica, based on US Justice Department numbers. That includes 370 whites and 235 blacks – with the race not reported in 202 cases. About 30 percent of the people shot by police were blacks, who comprise 12 percent of the population.

Blackman and former Rep. Brenda Barton are the only Republicans seeking the nomination for the District 6 House seat, which runs from Flagstaff to Alpine and includes all of Rim Country and the White Mountains. The career Army sergeant won election two years ago on a socially conservative platform, including staunch opposition to abortion.

Flagstaff Mayor Coral Evans, who is also black, is the sole Democrat seeking a nomination to the seat. She served two terms on the Flagstaff Council before her election as mayor in 2016.

Coconino County Supervisor and businessman Art Babbott is running as an Independent.

Blackman’s remarks drew a sharp response in some quarters.

The American Friends Services Committee-Arizona had previously worked with Blackman to reform the state’s criminal sentencing rules, but said it will no longer work with him. “To simply denounce Rep. Blackman’s harmful statements will not heal our communities or help create change,” said the group in a statement.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona said it would “not affiliate with someone who does not share our values of uplifting marginalized communities and rooting out racism.”

Hoffman sidestepped direct criticism. “As a public servant elected to serve all Arizonans, I am committed to continuing to work towards building understanding, empathy and policy solutions grounded in equity and inclusion. The door remains open for future meetings and conversations.”

House member Kirsten Engle, now running for the Senate and an ASU law professor, tweeted in response to Blackman’s remarks, “to say I am disappointed with Rep. Blackman is an understatement. I cannot understand why someone I consider an ally on criminal justice reform could be so wrong about the vital work of BLM (Black Lives Matter) demanding a stop to police brutality that is murdering Black people.”

State Rep. Diego Rodriguez tweeted, “Rep. Walter Blackman’s comments about BLM and Mr. George Floyd were ignorant, dangerous and divisive. I will not give them any more exposure because his words are poisonous to our community.

Arizona has the nation’s fourth highest incarceration rate, with 62,000 people behind bars. The incarceration rate is 877 per 100,000 — a rate that has roughly tripled since 1980. The state’s rate is 27 percent higher than the national average.

Az incarceration rates graph

Arizona has the nation’s fourth highest incarceration rate, with 62,000 people behind bars. The incarceration rate is 877 per 100,000 — a rate that has roughly tripled since 1980. The state’s rate is 27 percent higher than the national average. The incarceration rate for blacks in Arizona is five times higher than the rate for whites and the incarceration rate for Native Americans is about four times higher.

The incarceration rate for blacks in Arizona is five times higher than the rate for whites and the incarceration rate for Native Americans is about four times higher.

Peter Aleshire covers county government and other topics for the Independent. He is the former editor of the Payson Roundup. Reach him at paleshire@payson.com

(15) comments

juliussr

As a past Law enforcement Officer, I agree with the statement of Mr .Blackman. In this age, we see demonstrations that go totally against the Morals, Values and Common Judgement.We hear of the excessive difference in prison population, we hear nothing of the crimes that put these individuals there.t News Media blast the front page with photos and long winded editiorals of the excessive force used to subdue the criminal.Do they say anything of the injuries received by the Officers?

As to B.L.M., ALL LIVES MATTER! Riots and demonstrations, such as we saw, only go to show that all these that took part,have no desire to see the country move forward. They only look forward to the paycheck, from unknown big wigs, to keep them in the life style the choose.

Let all those that care for, love and want to see the life style we knew and worked for, stand together and work for it's return.

longtimeresident

If, as a former LE officer you don't see something wrong with crushing the neck of a handcuffed suspect then you are part of the ongoing denial problem. As a cop, one is expected to use reasonable force to effect an arrest, after cuffing, training should take over so that the suspect is not unreasonably harmed. Officers are not supposed to "teach Lessons". I am not saying these bad guys are angels, but if you don't want to work within the legal boundaries set forth by department Policy and the appropriate laws of your State then don't be a cop. What people are protesting is the unreasonable, continued, use of unnecessary, usually deadly force, typically by a white officer against a minority suspect.

And before people attack me, I am a Blue Lives Matter person and not what one would call a liberal.

juliussr

does the news media ever mention the incidents involving officers of color? Does the news media ever show the injuries of officers that have been singled out and had things thrown at them, had bodly fluids and solids thrown on them?Does the news media ever show the compassion and helpfulness of officers when there is an incident with serious or fatal outcomes? There are those that holler " DON'T JUDGE ALL BY SOME" , that goes for law enforcement officers too.

I have seen the good and the rotten officers. I have seen the good and the rotten of all races.

2Dabluer

It's about time someone did this

2linden

Rep. Blackman - go back to right field. Now you can report that at least one person doesn’t agree with you.

Russ_in_WML

Yes, absolutely, truth.

2rusty

Not ONLY am I an even more committed fan of Rep. Blackman's that before, but I'm also heartened that the majority of comments that have made it online so far are positive!

White Mountain Resident

The sad thing about this article is that Peter Aleshire believes he needs to use BLM's and antifa's own talking points when he describes these organizations. What happened to only the facts? These organizations are violent and want to destroy America, None of that is addressed when he describes the organizations. While Mr. Aleshire pens many of the WMI articles he does not get a pass on bias.

rockorenee

So he had a bad past. That makes it OK to sit on his neck while he cries for his mother and dies? I simply cannot understand your logic. Now we just lynch people that we think are bad? You are a very sick, sick person.

jrnygrl4evr

I agree with you 100%

jrnygrl4evr

What does his past have to do with what happened to him? Too often officers are either trigger happy, or they use excessive force on people. Officers should be held accountable. There is so many other ways to restrain an individual. I disagree with Blackman. Nobody is perfect.

pxllr

Victim shaming is never an acceptable excuse for raping beating or murdering someone. Police used to "protect and serve"! Now it is beat and murder! Time for major police reform to get back to that protect and serve model. Yes, only a few police are bad apples. But if the rest do nothing about the bad ones, what does that make them? Perhaps a civilian review board and a national file of the bad apples to start weeding them out?

ppetersen55

I don't believe the general public has any idea how much male bovine excrement LEO's have to put up with while on the job. Every traffic stop is full of unknowns. Is it a little old lady who doesn't know where she is? Is it a violent thug that would just as soon shoot you as look at you? Or somewhere in between?

A few years ago, pre-internet, a retired officer penned a small pamphlet titled along the lines of, "How to get out of a speeding ticket." Your natural instinct would say that other LEO's were probably not happy about it. On the contrary, they were ecstatic. This pamphlet described the emotions and thoughts that an officer has each time he/she makes contact with the public. It had simple instructions, such as:

- Pull over as soon as possible in a place where you and the officer will be safe.

- Roll down your window.

- If it is night, turn on your dome light.

- Keep your hands on the steering wheel and don't make any sudden movements.

- Wait for the officer to give you instructions. Don't start digging for your wallet.

- Be polite. Don't tell them you pay their wages.

- Don't argue. Save that for the courts.

The author pointed out that if we are not contentious, the officer will most likely reciprocate, and many times will only issue a warning. On the other hand, if we are belligerent and combative, the officer will almost certainly switch into a personal defense mode and the result won't be pleasant for either of us.

I cannot defend a bad cop in any way. The bad apples do need to be tossed out. I do believe we owe it to good cops to be civil and make their job as easy as possible. They are certainly doing a job most of us would not want. And after all they are human just like us, and simply want to be able to go home to their families at the end of the day.

Why can't we all just be kind???

cakeman

EXCELLENT! If I may add, if it's night, after you roll down the window, and turn on the interior light, Place both hands on the window sill. My sister-in-law said it always calmed the experience when she pulled someone over at night. Florida Wildlife and Marine.

Lee Bertay

It's all Trump's fault - that's what it's aaawwwll about!

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