Police chief blames pastors for contributing to national unrest


A local police chief wrote a nearly 1,000-word Facebook post that accused church leaders of contributing to discord between law enforcement and the public. Johns Creek Police Chief Chris Byers said he supports black lives and believes racism was in the heart of Derek Chauvin, the officer in Minnesota charged in the death of George Floyd, but he doesn’t support the Black Lives Matter movement.

“I do not support the Black Lives Matter as a movement as it seems to glorify the killing of my brothers and sisters,” Byers wrote in a post on his personal Facebook page. “It is not what you pastors and religious leaders think it is.”

“Stop trying to be relevant and look deeper into what you are saying, posting, and tagging before you do it. But please, never give up the fight against racism. We have a long way to go. But we need everybody moving in the same direction.”

Byers addressed his post to pastors, youth pastors, worship leaders and directors of ministries. He didn’t explain what statements they had made or when. His criticism was based on what officers told him, he said, and not what he had heard or seen firsthand.

“The views expressed on Byers’ Facebook page do not reflect the city of Johns Creek,” Communications Director, Bob Mullen said. The post no longer appeared on Byers’ page on Monday morning.

Byers said Johns Creek officers have been tearful and angry during meetings to discuss protests around the country, and Floyd’s death in May. He quoted officers as saying of church leaders, “‘Chief, don’t they know that the movements they are promoting at its core celebrates the killing of police officers simply because they wear the badge.’”

The Sunday night post came at the end of a weekend of more national headlines focused on police aggression. Two Buffalo, New York officers appeared in court, Saturday, for pushing a 75-year-old man to the ground during a protest. And Minnesota City Council announced they plan to defund, dismantle and rebuild the city’s police department.

Byers said that he supports protests and change is necessary, but he would not take a knee with protesters as some police chiefs have around the U.S.

“Taking a knee is a sign of surrender,” he said. “I will not surrender to this fight for justice.”

The chief described himself as a partner in the fight against racism.

“I am your biggest ally in the fight to stamp out any racism or corruption in our country’s police agencies,” he said. “I am on the front line in this battle. It’s my job to not only keep the bad apples from wearing the badge, but also to make sure the soil in my organization and profession remains pure.”

Byers joined the Johns Creek Police Department in 2008 and became the new police chief in March.