Last week, the small town of Parma, Missouri had 760 people, six police officers and one white man serving as mayor. This week, five of the six police officers have resigned after Tyus Byrd — a Black woman, Christian missionary and lifelong Parma resident — was sworn in as mayor.
You read that right. A Black woman was elected mayor and 80 percent of the town’s men in blue showed their true colors. Each of the officers, the city’s attorney, the city clerk and the waste water treatment plant supervisor all resigned, effective immediately, the week Byrd took office citing “safety concerns.”
Mayor Byrd and her supporters were taken by surprise when they learned of the resignations, and Byrd has since expressed her intention to look into the “safety concerns” in question. Forgive me if I’m jumping to conclusions here, but as the first African-American mayor in the history of this small Missouri town, I suspect she won’t have to look much further than the melanin in her skin to discover what it was these officers and elected officials found so alarming. (Though the gender thing probably didn’t help either.) As Shaun King put it, “If the very presence of a black woman in power causes you to fear for your safety, you shouldn’t be a public servant.”
Unlike the town’s former police force, residents of Parma have made it clear they are not worried about safety. In fact, now that five racists have turned over their badges and guns, I’d argue that in the hands of Mayor Byrd, Parma might just be safer than ever.
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