Ron Stallworth was the first Black detective for the Colorado Springs Police Department in the 1970s. The former officer infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan in 1979, a feat that he memorialized in his best-selling book, Black Klansman.
Stallworth reflected on decades of incidents of police violence against black Americans, including the recent death of George Floyd which has reignited momentum behind the Black Lives Matter movement.
America’s original sin of slavery, racism, and white supremacy still reverberates in George Floyd, Eric Garner, Atatiana Jefferson, Michael Brown and the countless others whose names are lost to history.
The Black Lives Matter movement dares us to say the names and look at the faces of the unarmed black men, women and children killed at the hands of police — and acknowledge the institutional racism that has resulted in their deaths.
“We witness things like this and we're afraid to stand up and be counted when we see wrongdoing occurring right in our midst,” said Stallworth as he reflected on the video that captured Floyd’s death. “And because we're afraid to stand up and challenge our fellow officers when they do wrong, we basically keep silent and back them up, support them. The blue wall of silence we erected.”
Stallworth has seen life on both sides of this blue wall of silence.
He was born in Chicago and grew up in El Paso before moving to Colorado. He has since retired from the Colorado Springs Police Department and returned to the West Texas border city, where he now resides.