David Thomas is President of the Inglewood Rotary Club, a businessman, and former law enforcement officer. He grew up in Compton as one of 3 siblings in the 1940s & 50s when it was a thriving middle class city. He attended high school in Long Beach where his associates were mostly white people. He was able to relate to people as individuals with minimal racial innuendo.
He studied communications at Long Beach City College, and then earned a BA degree in Theology. He was always interested in aviation, but was hired by the Inglewood Police Department in 1989, and served 27 years in patrol & community affairs, and 12 years as a robbery detective.
He discussed the Black Lives Matter movement. He has mixed feelings, relating to both his experiences of usually-subtle racial discrimination (even by other law enforcement officers) and his professional career in law enforcement. Some members of the Black community called him an “Uncle Tom” for wearing the police uniform.
Reviewing both sides of these demonstrations, he sees a small proportion of trouble-makers taking advantage of turmoil to vandalize buildings and provoke conflict, while the vast majority of demonstrators are peacefully expressing their protest and demands for constructive social and political change. He is impressed by the large proportion of non-black demonstrators, showing that many people care and were stunned by the infamous 9-minute suffocation video of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis. Most previous abusive incidents were invisible to most of society.
Promoting Peace is one of Rotary International’s 6 areas of focus, for which it provides a forum for the thoughtful discussion of difficult subjects. David Thomas’s life experiences provided us with a timely and balanced picture of this ongoing movement, which will hopefully help lead to constructive changes rather than to future conflict.